Click Here to Receive New Posts
in Your Inbox

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    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.

    Now Available

    Follow Me

    Glad to Know You-All

    I've never been to a real southern get-together, but I imagine no one leaves a stranger if Terry Thornton is hosting the party. I just know that he guides his guests through the crowd introducing him/her to each person there until they feel like kin. At least, that is what Terry has done over at Hill Country of Monroe County in his three-part series for the round up to the "Getting to Know You Challenge."

    Getting to Know You Round-Up at Hill Country of Monroe Country

    This is a blog read to bookmark and savor. Terry includes 42 bloggers in the round-up AND (best part of all) serenades the reader with his own rendition of the classic tune.

    Part 1 - Getting to Know You, Overture, Act 1, Scenes 1-15
    Part 2 - Getting to Know You, Overture, Act 2, Scenes 16-30
    Part 3 - Getting to Know You, Act 3, Scenes 31-42, Finale and Reprise

    I'm holding off on posting the Treasure Hunters Map Round-Up until Oct 3 -- spend the next few days enjoying the party at Hill Country of Monroe Country.


    Treasure Maps Ahoy!

    Thank you to all those bloggers who have accepted the Treasure Hunt Challenge. I'm building the blogroll of participants and will have it posted by October 2. You can still let me know you have accepted the challenge, either by emailing me a link to your blog or leaving a comment here before the stroke of midnight, tonight.


    Treasure Hunt Challenge Reminder

    It's not too late to join the Treasure Hunt Challenge. You have until Tuesday, Sept 30 to post your plan on your blog and send me a link:

    Post your Plan/Treasure Map to your blog on or before Sept 30, 2008 AND send me an email (dmlevenick via gmail dot com) with a link to your blog. Write Treasure Map in the subject line. A list of bloggers who have accepted the challenge will be posted at The Family Curator.
    Check out the original Challenge posting for more details.

    (my apologies about the missing email address; I have added it above 9/30-dml).


    Treasure Map to The Magic Cupboard

    In the spirit of all dedicated treasure hunters, and to accept the Treasure Hunt Challenge myself, I've been working up a map to find the goodies buried deep inside my Magic Cupboard. There are actually five cupboards just like the one pictured here, and each one has served as a storage space for pictures and mementos for over thirty years. It hasn't helped that furniture lives in front of the cabinets making them a bit difficult to access, but the last round of natural disasters reminded me that it would be nigh impossible to rescue the contents of all five cupboards. Clearly, some decisions need to be made, some organizing done.

    1. Destination -- #1 Cupboard (pictured here). It's the easiest to get to and probably filled with the most eclectic assortment of stuff.
    2. The Map -- I think I will find boxes of snapshots from my sons' early years and since I was fairly good about photo albums then, many of these are duplicates. I would like to sort the photos and pass them along to the boys. I am on the lookout for pictures of pets, birthday parties, and holidays to assemble specific albums. And, I really want to find a few wonderful pictures to use for an upcoming special birthday. I know I saved old newspapers (earthquakes, war, elections) too but don't have any idea why I should continue to keep them as they are just turning dry and yellow. Maybe these could just be combined in an archival box and tucked away again (sigh), or maybe I should just toss them out. Can't we access these on the internet now?
    3. Timeline -- Next weekend there is nothing on the calendar and I'm making a date with myself to start digging.
    I've been hearing of other treasure hunters assembling their tools, and can't wait to learn what they find. It's not too late to accept the challenge to clear out a box or cupboard and go treasure hunting. Read about the Treasure Hunt Challenge here and post your own map (plan) before Sept 30; then go hunting and let us know what you find.


    The Love is Growing

    I’m “It!” Always did love the game of Tag, and now I am honored to be tagged TWICE with the “I Heart Your Blog” -- by Sheri Bush at TwigTalk and by Linda Steinstra From Axer to Ziegler. Thank you for the kind words and your vote of confidence.

    In the spirit of passing it on, I understand that the recipient:

    • must link to the person who gave the award
    • nominate seven other blogs and link to them
    • leave a comment on each of the nominated blogs
    • and can add the logo on his/her blog
    What a great way to move around the blog world discovering new blogs and meeting new bloggers. So many wonderful blogs have already been tagged that I will try to focus on blogs where I haven’t seen the badge and maybe share a few new-to-you sites:
    • I met Craig Manson of Geneablogie fame this summer at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree and couldn’t wait to get to my computer and catch up on his blog. His recent experience with a treasure of family memorabilia mirrors my situation and I enjoy hearing how he is dealing with the challenge.
    • Speaking of the SCGS Jamboree, Paula Hinkel did a great job keeping attendees updated with information and addendums for the event at the Jamboree Blog. This blog is definitely worth bookmarking if you plan to attend next June.
    • As a Legacy Family Tree user I also regularly check in at the Legacy News Blog to see what tips and techniques Geoff Rassmussen has discovered. His clear and direct explanations make Legacy a real favorite for many of us.
    • Archivist Rebecca Fenning posts wonderful family history articles and photos at A Sense of Face providing a great connecting point for her family. I love the little vignettes she writes with each photograph.
    • Sally Jacobs is another archivist who keeps a helpful and interesting blog at The Practical Archivist. Her How-To articles are filled with tips for preserving and understanding family photos and papers.
    • Sometimes, a blogger needs a change of pace (or sound) and that’s when I head over to Tipper and Blind Pig & The Acorn where streaming music, photos, and stories all provide a virtual visit to Appalachia – a place I’ve never been!
    • And for a little city life, I enjoy Lisa’s stories of ethnic life at 100 Years in America. She makes me realize what a lot of heritage I have yet to discover in my husband’s Slovenian family history.
    It's a tribute to the blogging community that there is so much talent and mutual knowlege being shared. I can only imagine the months and years ahead!


    Treasure Hunt! A Challenge for Genea  Bloggers

    Lately I have written about The Magic Cupboard that seems to yield a treasure each time I open the door. First, I went looking for photos for my Personal Profile and out tumbled Arline's store of negatives from the early 1900's. Next I went back looking for pictures for the I Smile for the Camera Carnival and found that I couldn't find a thing. With a little encouragement from FootnoteMaven and Linda Stienstra I am proposing a Genea-Bloggers Challenge. How about a Treasure Hunt?

    Maybe with a some cheerleading from other Genea-Bloggers we can clear out the genealogy clutter from a box, closet, or cupboard and even find a treasure. So, here's the challenge.

    1. Select your destination. You probably have a genealogy Magic Cupboard in your house, too. Or maybe it's a Secret Desk, a Treasure chest, or a Box of Wonders. (Some people call them a rat's nest, Fibber McGee's Closet, or just plain "stuff".) It's the place you put those valuable photos, documents, or relics to take care of "later." The longer you live in one place, the more the magic grows.
    2. Make a plan (ie Treasure Map) to organize, preserve, document, return to rightful owners, pass on to relatives, or maybe even eliminate, keeping in mind the Sally Jacobs' archival advice that we don't have to save everything.
    3. Post your Plan/Treasure Map to your blog on or before Sept 30, 2008 AND send me an email with a link to your blog. Write Treasure Map in the subject line. A list of bloggers who have accepted the challenge will be posted at The Family Curator.
    4. Tackle that project. Post reports to your blog if you wish or ask for help if you get stuck. Let us know if you find some good tips to keep things moving or some greas archival supplies.
    5. Treasure! Post an article on your blog or share a photograph of your once-buried treasure.
    6. Send me an email with a link to your post for a final round-up of hunters. Write "Treasure" in the subject line. DEADLINE: Monday, Oct 20, 2008, midnight PDT. I will post the Treasure Hunt roundup during the week following.
    Please post any questions or comments here, or email me, dmlevenick at gmail dot com. You can also find me at Facebook. Good luck Treasure Hunters!


    Getting to Know Me, Getting to Know The Family Curator

    BB (Before Blogging), like most other high-school English teachers, my reading list consisted primarily of essays, college applications, and research papers, and my writing was mainly in the “short and direct” genre along the margins of student papers. Occasionally I scribbled in pencil in the blogosphere but didn’t get committed to ink until The Family Curator was born in 2007.

    I started the blog as a journal of my progress working with the treasure of my grandmother’s letters and photographs. My teaching schedule was pretty much all-consuming during the school year, and I found myself retracing steps each summer when I tried to get back to family history. The Family Curator helped me organize my research goals and plan where to go next. The blog also gave me a context to return to writing many years after working as a journalist and editor, and the more I wrote, the more I realized how much I missed writing regularly. When footnote Maven commented on my blog this spring and invited me to write a column for Shades of the Departed I realized that The Family Curator could be more than just a personal journal, and that other people might be interested in my project.

    I have tried to follow the lead of the many gracious genealogy bloggers who have been generous with encouragement and ideas, and hope that The Family Curator continues to grow and to be a useful part of the genealogy blogging community.

    My favorite article is probably the piece I wrote for Shades of the Departed on using a family history project in the high school classroom, but as for pieces posted on The Family Curator, I will have to cite Day 3 – The Transcription Project. It was rewarding to see the way things “clicked” for my high school students after they worked with Arline’s letters for a few days, and rereading this posting brings that day back to me.

    I still laugh when I read the very first posting at The Family Curator, Return to the Family History Project because I really did fall into genealogy out of self-defense. My mother was counting up cousins faster than I could figure out relationships. Of course, the recent postings from our trip to New England are favorites too, but I don’t know if I like the Vermont farm scene or the lobster roll photos best.

    As for the most beautiful posting, I do like the photo and short piece An Ironic Epitaph written for the 3rd Carnival of Genealogy Celebrating Home. I wish I could have seen that ranch house or the site where it stood.

    The genealogy blogging world has been an encouraging place to rediscover my love of writing and communicating. Although I am not teaching this year, I am learning every day, and much of what I learn is from the members of this community. I am continually impressed by the level of professionalism and commitment of the genea-bloggers who comment or email to The Family Curator, and hope that I can repay their generous spirit by passing on their support and goodwill.


    Treasure Revealed !!!

    All I can say is "Wow!" Arline sure knew how to set up a photo shoot. I've been working with the negatives that fell out of The Magic Cupboard to scan a few on my flatbed scanner. When I saw this one, I was stunned. It appears to be part of a series and I can't wait to scan and print the rest of them. Please help out, U.S. Military experts -- WWI or the Mexican American War? Some of Arline's letters from her cousin Sam talk about his Army unit getting ready for the Mexican invasion along the border states. But Arline also married a man who enlisted (or was drafted) in the Army shortly after the wedding in 1917. I'm putting the date of this photo about 1916-1917 until a better date comes up. Ideas?


    U.S. Military Unit. Negative. Digital image. Privately held by Denise Levenick, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Pasadena, CA. 2008




    Yale, Family Papers & High School Students in Archival Project

    Archivist Rebecca Fanning kindly sent me a link to a posting in Spellbound Blog about a pilot program carried out by Yale archivists similar to the project I did last spring with the Arline Allen Kinsel Papers and my high school students.

    The pilot aimed to introduce them to what archivists do, work with them to find, understand and describe their family papers and also to present archives as a possible profession to students who might assume that it was only welcoming to Caucasians.
    It is exciting to see archival work and value of family history become a legitimate part of the curriculum. There is no substitute for hands-on experience, especially for teenagers. I hope we will see more of these projects in our schools. If you know of a teacher who might like to try something like this, please pass on these links and urge them to try it. I would be glad to answer questions, as well.


    Arline and Christian Smile for the Camera

    This rendition of I Smile for the Camera is especially appropriate for photographs from the extended Arline Allen Kinsel Papers. By that, I mean, extended from Arline’s turn of the century files into the current generation’s archive. It wasn’t hard to find photos on this topic, but narrowing the choices to two or three was pretty difficult.

    Arline loved hats, hair-coverings, and theatrical poses. I remember my grandmother always wearing a little hat of some sort when she left the house. A funny little straw or felt thing if we were just going downtown for lunch at the cafeteria, or a dressy chapeau for church and holidays. Here she is in a tiny little photo-booth print I found in the Archive:


    I wonder what kind of fowl contributed to that hat? Best guess is an ostrich or some other fluffy-feathered bird.

    Arline would have loved her spirited grandson, Christian, a fiery-headed Californian who likes hats just as much as she did. Maybe it is that near-translucent classic red-headed skin tone, but Christian has learned to beware Ole’ Sol, although he was taking it a bit far in this picture, one of my favorites. Yes, Christian "We like your hats."


    Of course with orange hair (not red, but orange), it is a shame to wear a hat at all. Here he is a few years earlier sporting Big Hair. Alas, it was a look that did not last long.



    ~ Shades Of The Departed ~ Guest Column Encore

    The ever-delightful footnoteMaven at ~ Shades Of The Departed ~ has posted an encore rendition of the Friday from the Collectors Guest Columns. If you missed The Family Curator's discussion on July 4 on using letters and documents in the classroom, click over the Shades and revisit the article. You can also catch the very fine writing of many other genealogy bloggers on a great assortment of topics.


    Is the Magic Gone?

    In preparation for the next Smile for the Camera Carnival: Crowning Glory, today I went to the Magic Cupboard in search of a photo I know exists, but was unable to locate it. Instead, out tumbled loose snapshots, photo envelopes, and clippings. I have three cupboards, plus one old wooden chest, filled with family photos. Things are getting desperate here. Perhaps it’s time for a Clean Out the Clutter Challenge – Do any Genea-Bloggers want to keep me company?


    LibraryThing and Shelfari Become Awkward Step-Siblings

    If you love books -- and what genealogist doesn't? -- you have probably heard of latest blended family in the booklovers' social networking community. Last week, acquired 100% ownership of Shelfari, the upstart rival to LibraryThing. Both sites are aim to provide an online meeting place for book lovers: LibraryThing has been around since May 2006 and was created by Tim Spalding who holds the majority interest; Shelfari hit the net in October 2006 with Amazon investing in the company in February 2007, and completing a total buyout August 2008.

    And this is where things get interesting. LibraryThing is fiercely independent and somewhat resentful (to put it mildly) of what Spalding calls Shelfari's cloning of LibraryThing. In a recent blog post, Spalding notes that when Amazon acquires Abebooks, as it recently announced, the mega-bookseller will hold 40% ownership in LibraryThing and 100% ownership in its competitor. Doesn't that constitute a monopoly, or is that just "business"?

    What's this all mean for genealogy and family history booklovers? I wonder. . . I have been planning to catalog my library on LibraryThing, but will it go away? Which site will have the most genealogy users? The time required to catalog at either site could be extensive, is the independent LibraryThing in jeopardy?

    Fellow genealogists -- what is your take on this? Are you a user of either book site? It seems that there are more genealogy groups on LibraryThing, but they don't appear very active. If you are a member of either site, please ring in with your comments. I suppose the alternative may be to use both LibraryThing and Shelfari!


    It's Back to School Time -- Tell a Teacher "Thank You" Today

    Last night about dinner time I received an unusual phone call. It was the parent of a student I taught last fall. Alexxa graduated and had just attended her first day of college classes. The phone call was from her mother -- also a teacher -- who wanted to pass on a nice word from her daughter.

    It seemed that on the first day of college freshman English the instructor terrorized the class with tales of MLA citation-mania. My former student had called to tell her parents about her classes and said that she wasn't worried about English because she had been so well prepared with my citation-hammering in English last year. She said something about the teachers that seemed so tough were actually the ones that taught her the most. Whaddoyouknowaboutthat?

    Sometimes I thought I was preaching to the wind about good old MLA. I love citing sources.... "pretend it's a game," I said. "Pretend it's a code that you have to decipher. Pretend it's a puzzle to solve. It's easy, just follow the rules." But, many of them just couldn't be bothered. It was easier for them to triple space, number entries, and create their own unique citation style every time.

    Thank you, Alexxa. You make it all worth while. Encourage your student to let their teachers know how they made a difference. It could just be the one thing that keeps them going this year.


    The Magic Cupboard

    Lately I am feeling a lot like Peter and Susan in C.S. Lewis's classic, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It seems that every time I go to my living room photo cabinet, I find a new treasure. Just before leaving on our trip to New England I discovered another stash of photo negatives from my grandmother's trunk. I must have tucked them away out of the light when I first unpacked the boxes and then forgotten about them.

    Last night I discovered more negatives and another treasure. Nearly 20 years ago we took a trip to Montana for a Boy Scout campout on a local member's private riverside ranch. It was a fabulous week and after the camp we headed west through Missoula towards Spokane and Coeur d'Alene where we have relatives. The countryside was beautiful, green, hot.

    Just outside Couer d'Alene we spotted a country fair and pulled over. The boys weren't too thrilled, but we trooped around for a few hours and spotted a booth where two beautiful quilts were on display among the crafts and homemade goodies. One was a double-bed size in the Delectable Mountain pattern, the other was hand-embroidered flower blocks assembled into a twin size quilt. Both were pink and white, not exactly colors much used in my house with two boys. The women had only the two quilts for sale, and the price was pretty stiff for our budget, although now it would be a ridiculous bargain. I was surprised that the two women running the booth were actually selling the beautiful quilts. Evidently it was a mother-daughter team and the older woman shrugged off my surprise, "They were 'extras'," she said.

    My own few sorry attempts at quilting had taught me that it was truly a labor of love and skill. Both quilts were completely hand-quilted and had that lovely soft hand that comes from cotton throughout. As my ever-indulgent husband pulled out his wallet, I asked the maker if she would make a label with her name and the date for the quilts, and although she modestly refused at first, eventually she agreed to take my address and send me the labels.

    Now, I know those labels arrived in good time, I remember seeing them sometime, but I have not been able to find them since. I started quilting in 2000 and have often looked at those two spreads with a greater appreciation of the work and skill that went into them. What a surprise to find that envelope with the labels tucked inside a packet of photos from about the same time.

    The quiltmaker carefully embroidered her name and the year she made the quilts on each tag. One bears the inscription "Louis Nixon, 1943-1954." This is the Delectable Mountain Quilt, as I recall that she said she had made it some years previously. I have never heard of the pattern referred to by this name and am unsure of the meaning of the words. A quick search on Google has turned up a few entries in Find a Grave and links to a actor in Band of Brothers for "Louis Nixon." My best guess is that the quilt might have been made for a person by this name, or the block setting was known locally by the name. Meanwhile, I have a bit of careful cleaning to attend to on the larger quilt and then a bit of hand sewing to finally place those labels where they belong.


    Boicourt, Alice L. Quilt dated 1943-1954. Privately held by Denise Levenick [address for private use,] Pasadena, California, 2008, purchased from the quiltmaker in 1979.

    Boicourt, Alice L. Quilt dated October 1979. Privately held by Denise Levenick [address for private use,] Pasadena, California, 2008, purchased from the quiltmaker in 1979.

    "Louis Nixon." Blockbase: The CD Version of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. CD-ROM. Bowling Green, Ohio: The Electric Quilt Company, 2000.

    Find us on Google+