Click Here to Receive New Posts
in Your Inbox

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    SEARCH

    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
    Tuesday
    Oct222013

    M-Disc the 1,000 Year Archival Solution - Tech Tuesday Review

    Right now, I have a stack of cassette tapes on my desk that need to be digitized and archived. I want those files readable in 25, 30, 50, or 100 years, and I don't want to have to worry about migrating from CD to CD or from one cloud service to another. I'm pretty excited about the M-Disc from Millenniata -- a new kind of archival disc that promises Write Once, Read Forever

     

    Until recently, family historians had to rely on multiple copies and regular updating to insure the good health and accessibility of digital files. The M-Disc (Millennial Disc) is a game-changer that brings long-term media storage to the home computer user in the popular DVD and Blu-ray format. The National Archives notes a 2 to 5 year life expectancy for CD/DVD media; M-Disc is rated to last at least 1,000 years and survived rigorous testing by the U.S. Department of Defense Naval Air Warfare Weapon's Division at China Lake, California

    The M-Disc records by engraving data on a single rock-hard layer, unlike conventional discs that record using organic dyes susceptible to fading and decay. If you've ever tried to read the files on a CD or DVD left on a car dashboard or forgotten on top of a CD player, you know that heat, humidity, and light can quickly destroy digital storage media. In contrast, the M-Disc is designed for longevity with materials resistant to oxidation and decay.

    The M-Disc looks different than a regular DVD -- it's transparent. Hold it up to the light and you can see through the disc. 

    M disc transparent

    This special disc technology requires an M-Disc compatible writer that can etch the rock-like layer of the M-Disc. I didn't have any difficulty using the LG Blu-ray BP40NS20 M-Disc-Ready burner sent to me by Millenniata with a pack of sample discs. The plug-and-play disc writer worked on both my iMac and Dell Windows 8 laptop; the included software is Windows only, but the writer was able to burn the M-Disc using my standard computer DVD software.

    I tested the M-Disc by burning the same set of files to an M-Disc using the PC and then the iMac. After successfully burning the discs, I was able to read both discs in either computer. 

    I also tried to burn the M-Disc using the regular iMac and Dell DVD burners and found that the disc was not recognized. You really do need an M-Disc Ready DVD writer to create the M-Disc, but the disc can be read by any computer CD/DVD reader. The M-Disc is designed for archiving files and does not allow erasing files.

    M-Disc Ready Drives are available in internal and externl models, and some PC computers are already offering the drives as a standard feature. Check the full list of compatible drives here.

    The M-Disc is available with 4.7GB capacity. If you have only JPEG image files, you will be able to archive thousands of images. According to Milleniata, on average, one disc can store

    • 8,000 photos [JPEG],
    • 240 minutes of video, or
    • over 100,000 documents
    My digital image files are mostly archival TIFF format, and very large files. On average a 600 dpi color scan might be 20 to 30 MB, many times the files are considerably larger. For instance, each scanned page of a 7 x 10-inch photo album is about 70 MB. One 4.7 DVD will hold about 60 of these extra-large TIFF images, or all of my digitized cassette tapes.
     
    Large file size translates into more discs or hard drives. Economical, efficient storage is important to me. I would much prefer to archive once to a disc, instead of regularly migrating files to new fresh DVDs. With one copy of my files online, one copy on an external hard drive, and one copy recorded to the archival M-Disc, I will have less work maintaining my digital archive.
     
    M-Disc longevity is appealing to anyone interested in long-term archival solutions. It's always a good idea to keep multiple copies of digital files, but any media that prolongs the life of the initial file makes preservation easier to manage over time. 
     

    Read more about M-Disc technology and Department of Defense testing at the M-Disc website www.mdisc.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Tuesday
    Oct082013

    Is It Worth the Trouble to Clean Dirty Old Negatives?

     

    Old film can get pretty grubby. At the least, loose negatives are often dusty and smudged. Inquiring minds wanted to know if do-it-yourself film cleaners made a difference, and how well they worked with dirty old negatives. So, The Family Curator burned up $20 so you don't have to. 

    First, I talked with photographers about cleaning old negatives. Their reply was something like, "Why bother? Fix it in Photoshop." 

    Next, I went to a pro camera store and talked with the developing tech. She recommended a product called, appropriately enough, Delta Film Cleaner, and PEC Pads, lint-free cleaning cloths. Another product, PEC-12, was deemed too caustic for amateurs to use (hmmm). I was instructed to lightly spray the cleaner on the cloth and wipe gently across the surface of the film. Sounds simple enough.

    At home, I pulled out an assortment of dirty, crinkled, stained, torn, cut, and otherwise messed up black and white negatives and selected a few with typical damage: water stains, ink, and splotches of "crud."

    I thought the lumpy gunk was just, well, gunk, but the photo tech had warned me that "stuff" on the surface of the film was probably fungus growing into the emulsion and it would not come off the negative. The cleaner would only help with dirt, dust, and spots.

    My negatives had it all -- water stains, ink, gunk, dust, and general grime.

    Test 1 -- Using Film Cleaner to Clean Old Negatives

    Damage: This negative showed bits of gunk (they appear as white dots in the image below), general grime, and scratches.

    Process: I spread out a few sheets of clean paper on my kitchen counter and sprayed the Film Cleaner on the lint-free cloth. Then, I gently wiped once across both front and back of the film. You can see the results here. 

    Clean streaking

    Uncleaned negative (left) vs. cleaned negative (right)

    Results: The little spots over the doorway are gunk, that won't come off. The film is marred with scratches obvious in the upper left corner of the doorway; the cleaner doesn't help that. It's hard to see on this image, but the cleaned negative (right) yielded a digital image with a bit of more grey tint. The image does seem a bit brighter. I did not use any adjustments on the scan.

    Comments: This image adjustment is easy with photo editing software. No major improvement in overall quality.

    BOTTOM LINE: Not worth the trouble. 

    Test 2 -- Using Water to Clean Old Negatives

    Damage: This negative showed a big blotch, possibly a water stain, in the upper right hand corner of sky. There were also bits of gunk in the tree area, and general dirt and grime on the entire image 

    Process: I held the negative under warm running water using my fingers like a squeegee to move the water and saturate the film. I then used the lint-free cloths to wipe off excess water and placed the negative on top of a cloth for a few minutes. Next, I sprayed the Film Cleaner on a cloth and gently wiped the surface of the film to remove any water spots. 

     

    Neg washed full

    Original dirty negative (left) and negative washed with warm water and Film Cleaner (right).

    Neg washed ex

    Close up of "gunk" in sky. Washed film is better, but remains stained.

    Results: The cloth showed dirt blotches and the film felt clean, not dusty and dirty. Most of the stain in the trees diminished. The entire image is brighter.

    Comments: I could touch up the sky with software, but now the film is "nice and clean." It might not look this good when enlarged, however.

    BOTTOM LINE: Probably not worth the trouble and expense.

    Postscript

    My main interest in old film is to salvage the family history information it may hold. For that purpose, scanned copies of the negative meets my needs. I don't throw away the original negative, but I also don't feel compelled to return the film to pristine condition before storing in archival sleeves.

    Admittedly, my experiment in film cleaning was not conducted under scientific conditions. My kitchen is pretty clean, but it's not completely dust-proof. If a house has static electricity from dry air or wind, exposed negatives probably attract everything floating around the room and cleaning might be even more difficult.

    I think a better, easier solution for working with dirty old film might be to use a soft brush made for dusting film and save the Film Cleaner for cleaning negatives that you want specifically want to preserve in analog (film) format. Clean film has to have a longer lifespan than dirty old pictures.

    The products I used for this test included:

    Film Cleaner

    PEC-PAD

    PEC-12

     

    P.P.S. I am an Amazon Affiliate

     

    Thursday
    Oct032013

    My Grandma Was a Fashion Maverick -- Ancestral Fashion Review from Betty Shubert, Author of Out of Style for Treasure Chest Thursday

     

    How much do you know about your grandmother's fashion sense? 

    Hollywood costume designer Betty Kreisel Shubert, author of Out of Style, knows more than most about vintage fashion. I sent Betty three unidentified photos and she selected this portrait to study, not knowing the young woman was my grandmother, Arline Allen Kinsel.

    After enjoying Betty's delightful "reading" of Arline's outfit, and then "The Rest of the Story," I hope you agree that Betty is a family history fortune-teller when it comes to reading vintage styles.

    The Bolero Dress and the Double-Butterfly Hat

    At first glance, the overly decorated dress with fancy bolero and fanciful hat trimmed with two, too-tall butterflies, seemed an aberration of popular fashion. . . probably designed by a home dressmaker. (Although the unique hat shows expert millinery construction). [Photo #1, above].

    But surprisingly, research showed a dress with identical style lines in a 1915 Sears catalog! The only difference was in Sears' use of embroidery trim versus eyelet trim in our sample photograph.

    Arline kinsel style 2

    As seen in Sears Catalog 1915-1916. Sketch by Betty Kreisel Shubert

    Sears fashions were selected for, and sold to, average America women, but were about two years behind high-fashion magazines. Therefore, we can assume that the dress shown n the 1915 catalog could have been worn between 1913 to 1916.

    A key style clue in dating vintage dresses in is their ever-changing skirt lengths. Since this is not a full length picture it is helpful that the Sears 1915 dress is shown full length, ending at the ankle and revealing spool heel pumps. This was slightly longer than women were wearing their skirts at this time, but this was obviously a dressy summertime outfit and perhaps the lower skirt could could be left off to adapt to different skirt lengths.

    A chart illustrating "The Bottom Line About Hemlines and The March to Modernity" covering the years 1900 to 2000, appears on pages 216-217 in Betty's book, Out of Style.

    Counter to popular fashion in those years, the whimsical hat that dominates the picture is worn tilted UP. . . like a picture hat, instead of FLAT, like a platter hat. The only similar hat I found in the Sears catalog shows a sailor-like, platter hat. Although it was usually worn flat, it could have also been tilted up by a fashion maverick. . . like our lady.

    Her hair, shown peeking under the shirred, wired brim is bobbed in the Castle Bob style as worn by popular fashion icon, Irene Castle, of the famous dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle. ("Bobby pins" were invented to contain this hairstyle).

    Sears even devoted an entire page to show belts four to six inches wide, emphasizing the mid-to-low waist, as in our sample picture.

    From all these style clues, we can conclude that the woman in the picture was a self-confident individualist with a sense of humor who dared flaunt fashion rules. . . so, she flipped her hat UP and added a double butterfly, when the average woman would have only dared to wear ONE!

    © 2013, Betty Kreisel Shubert

    The "Rest of the Story" 

    I didn't know much more about this photograph than Betty when I sent it to her. I knew it was a photograph of my grandmother Arline Kinsel as a young woman. I guessed that it might have been an engagement or wedding photo taken about the time of Arline's marriage to John LeRoy Paulen 1908. I knew from her correspondence that she owned a sewing machine and that she loved being "in-style," but I had no idea she might have made something as elaborate as this outfit. 

    Betty's careful analysis prompted me to go back to Arline's photo album and look more carefully at her clothing. I spotted two more photos showing her wearing the dress. And, I discovered something interesting about the photograph my aunt displayed next to the custom-dressed doll in her curio cabinet -- it was a different pose than the photo I found in my mother's estate. Three photos appear to have been taken on the same occasion, but a fourth photo shows Arline in a different pose.

    Arline kinsel style 4

    Photo #2 Arline wearing the Bolero Dress and Double Butterfly Hat.
    Could this photo have been taken inside a church?

    It appears that Arline wore the Bolero Dress and Double Butterfly Hat for her wedding -- but it not her first! On the inside cover of her album, Arline clearly identifies Mr. and Mrs. Edwards 3rd, Helper Mt. Although the photos are undated, a marriage certificate notes that Albert Edwards and Miss Arline Paulen were married 11 August 1917 in Evanston, Wyoming. 

    Edwards 1

    Photo #3 Mr. and Mrs Edwards 3rd, Helper Mt.

    In this photo, Arline is wearing the Bolero Dress sans butterfly hat. What happened to it? Her hair is flying up in the air, and her hand poised jauntily at her waist. There are other differences from the formal portrait too -- different bodice, no flowers at the waist, and pearls instead of a medallion on a chain at her throat. I wonder if these are two entirely different occasions.

    Arline Kinsel and friend

    Photo #4, Arline and Friend. Arline wears the Bolero Jacket and Double-Butterfly Hat

    The other album photo shows Arline posing with a friend outside a stone building that looks like a church. Although the flowers at her waist are huge in this photo, it looks like the same dress and hat as photos #1 and #2. I don't recognize the other young woman in the photo and didn't find her in the album, but she may turn up in time. 

    The time frame for these photos appears to be about 1917, the year of Arline's marriage to Edwards. To confuse things, consider that by August 1917 Arline had already been married and divorced twice -- to the same man. Edwards was her third marriage and second husband.

    Given that Arline lived in the Western States of Utah and Colorado, it seems likely that fashion would lag behind big-city style. It's also possible that Arline wore the dress for two special occasions -- an earlier event where she was formally and informally photographed (Photos 1, 2, and 4), and a later event in 1917 as Mrs. Edwards 3rd wearing the skirt and eyelet jacket with a different blouse and jewelry and without the hat. 

    Which leads me to wonder, could Arline have worn the original dress and butterfly hat at her second wedding -- the remarriage to Paulen???

    P.S. -- What do you think about Betty's assessment of Arllne as a "self-confident individualist with a sense of humor who dared flaunt fashion rules"?

    Analyze your grandmother's fashion sense with Betty Shubert's new book, Out-of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved

    Available in hardback and softcover

    www.OutofStyletheBook.com

    Read my Book Review of Out of Style
         Great Grandmothers are Always in Style

     

     

    Tuesday
    Oct012013

    Travel Tuesday at the Clark County Genealogical Society and Library

     

    Clark County Genealogical Society

    Are you researching family history in Vancouver, Washington and Pacific Northwest? If so, you may want to investigate the many resources offered through the Clark County Genealogical Society and Library located minutes from historic Vancouver, Washington overlooking the Columbia River.

    I didn't expect to find a genealogy library staffed by friendly and helpful volunteers on a recent visit to Vancouver, but I discovered a hidden gem under the large signs on the strip-mall business front. Volunteer William "Bill" Whalley gave me a quick tour and highlights of the CCGS activities and programs. Founded in 1972, the Society runs a busy schedule and offers publications and research services.

    CCGS interior

    Volunteer Bill Whalley greeted me at the Library and gave me a quick tour.

    The CCGS Library includes over 8000 items with an emphasis on Washington and Oregon materials. My tour also showed resources from all states and a good-size microfilm collection. In addition, wireless internet and subscription database services are available for users. 

    The annual CCGS Fall Seminar -- Westward Migration -- will be held Saturday, 23 November at the Library, and will include sessions on Colonial Migration, Creating a Migration Map, and Finding Your Overland Trail Ancestor in Oregon and Washington Repositories.

    You can find more information about the Clark County Genealogical Society and Library at their website, www.ccgs-wa.org. The Library is located at 717 Grand Blvd, Vancouver, WA. See the website for hours and phone numbers.

     

     

    Friday
    Sep272013

    Great Grandmothers Are ALWAYS In Style: Book Review of Betty Kreisel Shubert's New Book

    If you owned this photograph, wouldn't you want to know more about the young woman wearing the outrageous butterfly hat? I have looked at this image for years, but all I knew was that the photographer had captured my grandmother Arline Allen Kinsel in a very flattering window-seat pose. Arline's white muslin dress and huge hat hinted at a special occasion, but what could it have been?

    My aunt may have known more about the photo, but she never shared that with me. She was more excited about the porcelain doll she found and had painted and dressed to resemble Arline of the photo. Dolly Arline was displayed in a glass front curio cabinet for decades, seated on a glass shelf beside the original photograph. 

    By the time my aunt passed away, the doll had been sitting in that cabinet for at least thirty years. Her once-white muslin dress was brown and crisp and the exposed porcelain was dingy yellow. Ultraviolet light ambient light,, uncirculated air, and the wooden back and sides of the cabinet had created an "acid-chamber" where the doll slowly deteriorated.

    Nothing is forever, but the doll would certainly be in better condition if she had been stored in a dark closet, wrapped in a cotton pillowcase, and brought out for occasional display. It's a tough call, because the doll was designed to be displayed and enjoyed. And, everyone who visited my aunt, remarked on the beautiful young woman pictured in the photograph and mimicked by the doll's dress.

    DollCabinet

    So, I've wondered about the dress and hat. I knew my grandmother sewed -- her letters refer to shipping her sewing machine when she moved, and fabric and trim she bought for a handmade  "waist." I also knew that she loved stylish clothes and didn't have much money, good motivation for a fashion-forward young woman who could work a needle.

    What I needed was a kind of 20th century fashion maven who could look at the doll and the photo and offer more details about Arline. And, SCGS Jamboree proved to be the place to meet Betty Kreisel Shubert, former costume designer and fashion writer, and author of the new guide Out-Of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved.

    It's a bit misleading to label Betty's 350-page book a simple "guidebook," because it's that and so much more. Betty's fashion career began when she sold her first dress design at age 13, in 1938. Since that time, she's gone on to design clothes and costumes for stage, screen, television, ready-to-wear, Las Vegas musicals, and Disneyland, as well as uniforms for major cruise lines, hotels, restaurants, and casinos. Out-of-Style is a lively, personal memoir and reference book. It's clear that when Betty writes about "The Twenty-Five-Year-Old Dress, When do 'Old' Clothes Become 'Vintage' Clothes?" and shares a story about her own classic gown, she knows what she's talking about.

    Betty was tapped to share her fashion wisdom with friends exploring their family history who were having trouble dating old photographs: "I can help that," Betty offered. "I can tell you the date from the clothes." And, a new career working with genealogists was born. Betty shared her knowledge in Ancestry Magazine, and has now assembled a comprehensive reference guide to 19th and 20th century styles in her book Out-of-Style.

    I especially like the artist sketches that bring together on one page the changing styles; this makes it easy to compare what you may have in a photo across several years or decades. For example, comparing Arline's hat to this page of compiled hat styles, helps identify the Arline's hat as a "Platter Hat."

    Outofstyle001

    Ladies' Hat Styles 1900-1914, Copyright Betty Kreisel Shubert, used with permission

    After talking with Betty, I asked her if she would "read" Arline's photo and share her thoughts on the dress and extravagant Butterfly Hat. I hoped for a few notes, but Betty sent so much more -- a handwritten historic evaluation of the clothing and an astute analysis of the kind of woman who might wear such an outfit. Without any extra information from me, Betty picked up Arline's personality and even anticipated her social life. Be sure to check back for Part 2 of this article for Betty's "reading" of Arline's portrait.

    You can read more from Betty Shubert at Goodreads, or listen to her talk about Hollywood, vintage fashion and her book with Nick Digilio, Radio 720 WGN The Voice of Chicago

    Find Out-Of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved by Betty Kreisel Shubert at Amazon.com.

     

    Note: The Family Curator is an Amazon Affiliate.

    Tuesday
    Sep242013

    7 Steps to Disaster-Prep Your Genealogy

    What's Your Risk From Disaster?

    Join me on Wednesday, 25 September for an exclusive LIVE Webinar at Family Tree University, 7pm EST / 6pm CST / 5pm MST / 4pm PST, as we discuss how you can prepare for the next Big One.

    In Southern California, we worry about earthquakes and wildfires -- those natural disasters often lead to home (and keepsakes) damaged or destroyed by fire, water, or power loss.

    Fortunately, you CAN take steps to prevent the total loss of your research and your family keepsakes. This 7-Step Genealogy Disaster Plan can provide peace-of-mind and an action plan for preserving family history --

    Genealogy Disaster Plan

    1. Inventory, Prioritize, and Digitize

    You might not be able to save everything in the event of a devastating natural disaster, but digital copies can provide replacement copies of photos and documents, and information evidence of artifacts and other memorabilia. Inventory, prioritize, and digitize to create a digital archive of your most important materials.

    2. Backup Your Digital Files

    You can't hear it enough -- Backup, Backup, Backup. 

    3. Preserve Your Keepsakes

    Don't just throw your treasures in any box and think they are preserved. You need to use Archival  containers that will help your items last as long as possible.

    4. Store Your Keepsakes

    You also need to store those archival boxes in the best location possible -- moderate temperature and humidity, and free from pests, pollution, and light.

    5. Make a Genealogy Grab & Go List

    Sometimes, you'll have time to prepare for an impending disaster. Save time with a list of items that you want to preserve.

    6. Create a Genealogy Disaster Kit

    Follow our handy list of items to help you recover your keepsakes after a disaster. You'll need protective gear, cleaning supplies, and storage containers.

    7. Stay Alert and Up to Date

    Keep informed, backup often, and migrate digital files as media becomes older.

    Learn More

    Sign up for the Family Tree University LIVE Webinar Wednesday, 25 September 2013 for more information about what you can do BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a natural disaster to protect and preserve your genealogy research and family keepsakes. You'll discover resources for:

    • local hazard maps
    • rescuing water-damaged items
    • getting rid of smoke odor
    • finding a professional conservator
    • where and how to store your keepsakes
    • what to put in your own Genealogy Disaster Kit

    The LIVE Webinar will be followed by Q & A time for your specific questions. Click here to sign up  and get 

    20% Off Entire Purchase at Family Tree University. Use coupon code FTUCOURSE during checkout. Expires 12/31/2013.

     

    Note: I am a contributor and affiliate for Family Tree University. See my Affiliates and Sponsors page for more information.

    Monday
    Sep232013

    Visiting Ventura

    Ventura pier

    This past Saturday I presented Preserving the Past: Archiving and Digitizing Family Keepsakes at the monthly meeting of the Ventura County Genealogical Society, and the group made me wish I lived closer to Ventura. With over 200 members, VCGS boasts a VERY active society and a full calendar of events, including their annual seminar next month featuring Lisa Louise Cooke. If you live within driving distance, it's well worth checking out the VCGS website for activities, lectures, and special events.

    I enjoyed meeting many genealogists and talking with members about their family heirlooms -- from family Bibles to wedding gowns to photos and documents. I even heard about a family history "rescue" trip that ended with boxes of memorabilia scattered across the airline baggage conveyer belt. (Thankfully, everything was returned to the boxes and made it home safely).

    The skies were blue when I arrived at the meeting, and dark blustery clouds covered the skies by the time I left to drive south. The weather changes "that" fast! I didn't get down to the pier on this trip, but the skies looked a lot like last year when I snapped this photograph.

    Thanks for the invitation, VCGS! And, it's fun to know that my blog is read by the group, even though I didn't get a new recipe for southern fried chicken from Fran Bumann! She reminded me, however, that it's probably better not to make that deep-fried delicious-ness too often!

    Wednesday
    Sep182013

    Mastering Genealogical Proof and Texas Fried Chicken

    Last Days of Summer: "Two New Things" I Learned This Summer

    Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is over, except for the official First Day of Fall this Sunday, 22 September. When life is no longer measured by school calendars, and you live in a temperate climate, one season tends to run into the next. I started off this summer with the goal that I would Make Time to Learn "One New Thing," (blog post here.)

    Actually, I wanted to learn Two New Things: more about the Genealogical Proof Standard, and how to make my step-mother's fantastic fried chicken. (Note I did not set out to "master" the GPS, although I am working toward that objective).

    Fried Chicken Attempt  2

    Fried Chicken Attempt #2 -- Looks Good, Tastes Bad

     

    MGP

    Tom Jones and Denise Levenick at GRIP 2013,
    Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS

    Goal GPS -- I was determined that this summer I would shift my genealogy into gear and get into the nitty-gritty of the Genealogical Proof Standard. I spent a week at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh in Dr. Tom Jones course, Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS, and came home energized to apply the principles to my research. I'm now participating in an online study group to be a leader for future Mastering Genealogical Proof study groups.

    The classroom and online discussions are a great way to learn and really work with this material. I think my biggest "One New Thing" from the course is that using the GPS enables genealogists to reach logical conclusions with targeted research, not merely "collect" information with the hope of finding that straightforward and direct answer to a research question. AND, using the GPS is not some mystical or impossible skill. Any genealogist with time and interest can study and practice the steps outlined in Tom Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof, and work toward mastering the concepts of the GPS.

    I also pursued some of my wayward FANS at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne; transcribed land and probate records from my last trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City; and sifted, sorted, and organized more boxes of family keepsakes. With family activities, a huge remodeling project, and summer birthdays, that was about as much genealogy as I could manage.

    Fried Chicken Attempt  1

    Fried Chicken Attempt #1 -- Could Look Better, Tastes Great

    Goal Fried Chicken -- Of my two summer goals, Mastering Polly's Fried Chicken was the more difficult. There was no written guide, only the briefest of verbal instructions: Soak the cut-up bird in salty water while the oil heats in a cast iron frying pan. Coat bird in flour. Fry in hot oil. 

    My first attempt would qualify as Very Good. I followed Polly's directions. 

    My second attempt was not good at all. I used a recipe from a food magazine that called to soak the chicken pieces overnight in salted water. We were in the mountains and I thought it would be smart to fry the bird outdoors in an electric skillet. However, the pan wasn't very deep and it was made of thin aluminum so the heat dropped considerably when the meat was added. The chicken took forever to cook, and the texture was rubbery. The flour coating didn't stick at all. Overall it was a disaster. Yech. 

    What went wrong? I know that poultry doesn't benefit from long marinading and that the meat breaks down when salted. I also know that cast iron holds heat better than aluminum. And I know that high altitude is a game-changer all round. So, why didn't add my own knowledge to the recipe and tweak it to make wonderful fried chicken? I tried too hard to follow the written instructions, thinking my own knowledge was worth less. Maybe it is a good recipe at sea level with a different kind of bird in a different kind of pan, but it wasn't good for my purposes.

    Instead, I really should have remembered Dr. Jones advice when it comes to deciding one thing or another: "It depends."

     

    Monday
    Sep092013

    Celebrate Success with Author Steve Robinson -- You Helped!

    Steve rob banner

    Big News from a favorite genealogy mystery author -- Steve Robinson, author of the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series, has just signed a four-book publishing contract with Amazon Publishing to rebrand the JT series under their Thomas & Mercer imprint. This means more exposure for Robinson's books and (hopefully) more adventures for genealogical sleuth Tayte.

    In the Blood   introduced American genealogist Jefferson Tayte to Kindle readers in June 2011 and was named as an Amazon UK "Best Book of 2011. J.T.'s adventures continued in To the Grave , released as a Kindle ebook in June 2012, and The Last Queen of England  released in November 2012. All three books are now available in paperback and Kindle ebook editions.

    It has been a pleasure to get to know Steve through interviews and email exchanges, and I am delighted for this new turn in his career. If you've been following him as well, you'll know that his style is friendly and approachable, whether he's talking about writing, researching or picking up genealogy skills to channel through his sleuth J.T.

    Steve shared the news in an email with a note of thanks that extends to fans in the genealogy community who embraced the series and encouraged Steve's career. He writes:

    If you've been following my blog then you'll no doubt already know this, although you probably haven't read today's blog post, so please take a look.  I just wanted to let everyone know that, following an offer for a four book publishing deal with Amazon Publishing, I now have the contract and will be signing it over the weekend.  One of the key reasons Amazon Publishing noticed me amongst the many other authors out there was because of all the reviews my books have accumulated.  The most important part of this email for me is to say a big thank you to everyone for your support in helping to bring this about.

    I'm a bit nervous if I'm honest, but I'm also very excited.  They're going to rebrand my books under their Thomas & Mercer imprint for release in spring next year, with the fourth book coming out as soon as possible after that.  This does mean that the next book will probably be a bit later than I would have liked, but hope you'll bear with things. The book is shaping into what I believe will be another worthy adventure for Jefferson Tayte - as if I would knowingly give you anything less. :o)

    I've posted a couple of blog entries about the deal with Amazon Publishing if you'd like to read more about it.  Here are the links:

    http://ancestryauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/ive-accepted-offer-from-amazon.html

    http://ancestryauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/jt-book-4-update-amazon-publishing.html


    My sincere thanks and well-wishes to you all,

    Steve.


    http://www.steve-robinson.me
    http://www.ancestryauthor.blogspot.com

    If you've enjoyed Steve's books and his interviews at The Family Curator, please let him know with a comment here (he does pop in regularly!) or on his blog.

    Read more --

    Book Review and Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson, Author of the Genealogical Crime Mystery Series

    Heads Up! More GeneaFiction On the Way from Steve Robinson, Author of In the Blood

    He's Back! More Great GeneaFiction and Another Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson

             

    Good news for Steve's fans, but sad news that the next book won't be out until spring. Looks like we may have bring out the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to keep our skills sharp.

    Thursday
    Aug292013

    Federation of Genealogical Societies Hits a Home Run with Fort Wayne FGS 2013 Conference

    ACPLTrick photo? Is that a steeple on the Allen County Public Library?

    It’s not every genealogy conference that offers nightly fireworks, ballroom dancing and after-hours access to one of the best genealogy libraries in the United States, but FGS 2013 did it all. I’ve just returned home from the annual Federation of Genealogical Societies conference held this year in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I’m already looking forward to returning to Fort Wayne and to FGS 2014.

    Grand Wayne Center

    The conference committee and host societies rolled out the red-carpet with a stellar program beginning Tuesday with Librarian’s Day and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center and the Internet Archive Scanning Unit. Lucky librarians!

    Wednesday’s schedule offered over two dozen sessions on society-building and special programs, and concluded with a special reception at the Botanical Conservatory. I spent the day mostly at the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) getting acquainted with the enormous variety of material available in OPEN STACKS to researchers. Botanical Gardens Social

    Meeting new and old friends at the opening social event at the
    Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. 
    From left, Laura Lorenzana, Diana Ritchie, Shelly Bishop, and Susan Clark. 

    Thursday, Friday, and Saturday featured full days of top-notch presentations, hosted luncheons, and special evening events. Friday Night at the Library included music, ballroom dancing, and late-night research topped off by fireworks from the local ballpark. And, we do mean “Local.” The Fort Wayne Tincaps, farm team for the San Diego Padres, plays at Parkview Stadium directly across the street from the Grand Wayne Convention Center and a block away from the ACPL. 

    Inside the Grand Wayne

    Inside the conference center. 

    Parkview Field

    Buy tickets early! Sold out this year! 

    Fortunately, FGS will return to Fort Wayne and the Allen County Public Library in a few years. Start planning now; it’s a conference you won’t want to miss.

    Parkview

    Monday
    Aug192013

    The Past is Present Once Again on World Photography Day 2013 

     

    Dear Photograph Anniversary Edition

    August 19, 2013 marks the fifth year of World Photography Day, a online global event celebrating photography by anyone with a camera -- amateurs and professionals. The Family Curator participated in 2011 by hosting the Past is Present Photo Challenge and publishing a gallery of great family history photos submitted by bloggers and genealogists. You can read the original challenge here, or visit the participating bloggers below.

    My contribution was a Dear Photograph style image created with Mr. Curator when we visited the church where we were married to snap Dear Photograph: 35th Wedding Anniversary Edition, above.

    Check out these inspiring and creative contributions to the Past is Present Photo Challenge and start planning now for your entry in 2014! Check The Family Curator for more details in future months.

    Past is Present World Photography Day Challenge
    2011 Participants 

    Geni Webb responded to the challenge "It's not an easy thing to do but it sure was fun" and presents a back-to-school image that combines student and teacher for The "Past is Present" Photo Challenge on Ginisology. Thanks, Geni for kick-off the challenge and getting out the word.

    Randy Seaver's post for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Pick Your Past Photos for the Present Photo Challengehelped to spread the news about the Past is Present Photo Project. Randy's selected three photos... and it will be fun to see what he comes up with... one of these Saturnday nights!

    Dorene participated in GeneaMusings Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, August 6, 2011 to showcase photos of her great grandmother standing in front of her apartment building in Sandusky, Ohio. It was a tough shot to capture, and Dorene posts her photos at Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay.

    Chris Staats at Staats Place was determined to participate in the project, even if he had to get creative with Photoshop. His post SNGF: Staats Not Gonna Follow [the rules again] pulls together a collage that includes the image of a hand holding one of the photos. Very ingenious.

    Karen Seeman at Ancestor Soup brought the past to the present by placing an image of herself with her grandmother and great-grandmother in a present day photo of their old house to make Memories Past... Then and Now.

    Jean of Bluegrass and Buckeye Roots featured a past family home tour for her post SGF - a little late, but looking at family houses. Although the images aren't "superimposed," she says, the pages "capture the times together" and isn't that what it's all about?

    Valerie enlisted her sister's help for a Dear Photograph style image that she calls "Looking Into the Past" for her post SNGF: Present Photo Challenge at Begin with 'Craft'. Valerie has also used the technique on an earlier postfeaturing photos taken in cemeteries, and shares her technique tips as well.

    Jasia took a trip to a Detroit cemetery to visit the grave of her great grandmother Ludwika. Her Dear Photograph image at Creative Gene is a poignant letter to one day in 1912, remembered "with Love from her great Granddaughter Jasia" at Genealogy Photo Challenge for World Photography Day.

    Julie Goucher at Angler's Rest features the graves of her great grandparents in Surrey in Genealogy Photo Challenge - The Past is Present, and shares an interesting note about her grandmother's death and lead-lined coffin.

    Kim Adams hadn't heard of Dear Photograph when the Photo Challenge was announced, but soon realized that she had already taken "THE perfect 'Dear Photograph' photo!" featured in One hundred seventeen years later... My answer to the Genealogy Photo Challenge at GeneaMania.

    Vickie Everhart is certainly the MacGyver of the Past is Present Challenge. After viewing her beautiful photograph at Sentimental Sunday::Meadows of Heaven be sure to see how she set up the shot at Then and Now on Be Not Forgot.

    Kristin combined photos from Google Images with pictures of her family from 1946-1950 to bring her family into 2011 for Past is Present - Springfield Massachusetts 1948 - 1950 at My Cleages and Reeds.

    Kay Bauman showcases her grandparents home in Then and Now on Relative Storyboards, and recounts her memories of a a very special place.

    Cynthia Shenette showcases two photographs of the Chopin Statue on Heritage Zen in a poignant post entitled Chopin Rising, writing about loss and hope for the future.

    Wednesday
    Aug142013

    Wayback Wednesday: Remembering the Pony Photographer

    In the days when California suburbs welcomed the Helms' Bread truck and the Ice Cream van cruising the neighborhood to the tune of their company jingle, it was not uncommon to see a pony being led along the streets by an traveling photographer similarily looking for a little business from the housebound housewives.

    My mother and aunt remember the photographer and his pony who had a regular route through their Anaheim neighborhood. For a small fee, he would hoist excited children to the back of his patient pony and snap their photograph. Mothers could order prints to be delivered at a later time, and no doubt many were tempted to buy the deluxe versions hand-colored and enlarged in the photographer's studio.

    Frances and Susie Brown, Anaheim, about 1938

    On Wednesdays I am featuring favorite posts from the The Family Curator archives. Enjoy!

    Wednesday
    Aug072013

    Learn at Home: Family Tree University Fall Virtual Conference

     

    Can't make it to FGS this month? Set aside the weekend of September 13-15, 2013 for the Family Tree University Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference and learn at home in your fluffy pink slippers.

    I'm excited to be one of the presenters with Digital Filing for Your Genealogy, one of 15 half-hour video classes available on-demand to conference attendees throughout the weekend. Learn to control your computer clutter with super-strategies for file-naming, folder structure, and digital filing.

    A virtual conference let's you choose when you want to watch the sessions, and the best part is that you can even download presentations and handouts to watch again later or view topics you missed.

    Right now, you can save $50 with Early Bird Discount Registration.  The offer expires Friday, 9 August 2013. Enter discount code FALLVCEARLY HERE

    Chats and Message Boards

    Attendees will have a chance to ask questions and join in discussions at the weekend chats and message boards moderated by former Family Tree Firsts Blogger and Family Tree Magazine contributor Shannon Bennett. Check out her great blog for more about Shannon.

    See the complete line-up for the Family Tree Fall 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference HERE.

    1 - 2 - 3 Tracks

    Virtual presentations will include tracks in Genealogy Technology, Research Strategies, and Ethnic Research from presenters --

    • Lisa A. Alzo
    • Lisa Louise Cooke
    • Rick Crume
    • Nancy Hendrickson
    • Denise May Levenick
    • Sunny Jane Morton
    • Donna Moughty
    • Gena Philibert-Ortega
    • Diana Smith
    • D. Joshua Taylor
    • Judy G. Russell

    Join us for a weekend of great genealogy education September 13-15, 2013. Register now to save 25%. Use Code FALLVCEARLY HERE for Early Bird discount through Friday, 9 August 2013.

     

    Note: I am a contributing author and affiliate at Family Tree Magazine and Family Tree University.

    Tuesday
    Aug062013

    Archiving JPG Scans and Photos from Your Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, Digital Camera, and Mobile Phone

    Nebraska summer

    Nebraska Summer
    JPG 614 KB vs. TIFF 9.2 MB

    It's no coincidence that compact mobile scanning devices produce only JPG files. Whether you are using a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, a cell phone camera, smartphone app, wand scanner, or point-and-shoot digital , the resulting digital file is a JPG image file. 

    JPG files use compression to keep the overall file size small so that more images can fit on a storage card or hard drive. Small portable devices like the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and digital cameras need this kind of high-capacity storage. The Flip-Pal is completely battery-powered and saves scanned images to a small SD card, probably like the one in your digital camera. The included 2 MB SD card will hold about 900 scans at 600 dpi resolution. That's a lot of photos in a very small space.

    JPG vs. TIFF

    In the world of digital imaging, JPG is a hero because the file format can compress an image to save space. This compression makes it possible to email a photo, send a file for printing, or post pictures to Pinterest or Facebook. But every time a JPG file is Saved, a bit of the information within the file is lost. Hence, JPG files are known as lossy files. For the average photo that is opened a saved a few times, the image loss is probably undetectable to the average eye. But when a photo is opened, edited, and saved repeatedly, the image can become almost unusable.

    It doesn't matter if the JPG image originated in your digital camera, your wand scanner, or on your smartphone, the JPG file will degrade with repeated Saves. How many? I tried to correct a poor quality digital photo over several sessions with my photo editing software; after more than a dozen attempts the image became blotchy and filled with pixellated artifacts. 

    Professional archivists and photographers have always had more demanding goals than consumers. They want to preserve original materials, and recommend using TIFF loss-less file format for archiving images. Unfortunately, TIFF files can be huge, and even with the current low price of terabyte storage, TIFF files are impractical for sharing and storing on portable devices. 

    In the world of digital photography, the equivalent of TIFF format files is RAW, another very-large file that requires some amount of post-photograph developing. Most family photographers don't need or want to learn to "shoot RAW."

    What Genealogists Want

    Family historians want it all. We want digital files we can

    • share with friends and family
    • post on websites, social media and sharing sites
    • print at our local big box store
    • edit and use in digital photo albums and scrapbooks
    • include in video slideshows and presentations

    AND, We want to create these digital files

    • without power cables
    • without computer cables
    • without a lot of fuss
    • wherever we happen to be at the moment

    My experience with that damaged photo taught me to use a simple workaround so I will never lose a JPG file again. Here's what I learned:

    Three Solutions

    The best advice we have today offers three easy solutions to preserving digital images for the future. The one you choose should depend on your time, funds, and personal goals. 

    TIFF is the archival gold-standard. Try to scan heirloom photos and documents in TIFF.

    When you don't have the option of TIFF, don't despair, remember C-A-N:

    C - Convert your JPG to TIFF and save all TIFF files in an Archive Folder.

    Tip: Use the same filename for both JPG and TIFF files. The .tif extension will remind you that this large, loss-less file is your Digital Master Image. If you need to open it for editing, the TIFF version will not degrade when saved.

    When you need a JPG version for email, editing, or another project, you will need to Export or Save As JPG.

    A - Archive a JPG copy of the original file and save this new JPG in an Archive Folder.

    Make it a Rule never to open the Archive JPG unless the original file is damaged or lost.

    Tip: Use a common root filename for both files --

    smith-john_1916_marriage.jpg (for the original file)

    smith-john_1916_marriageDM.jpg (for the Digital Master copy in your Archive Folder)

    N - Use a Nondestructive photo editor.

    Some photo editing programs never modify the original file. You can ALWAYS revert back to the original, even after repeated cropping, touch-ups, and enhancing. Look for this feature in your current program; not all photo editors are non-destructive.

    Popular nondestructive photo editing software includes Google PicasaApple iPhoto, Apple Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom. These programs handle files differently, but the original image is preserved.

    Go Ahead - Create JPG Images

    All this means that you CAN have the convenience of mobile scanning and photography and the security of a digital archive. In fact, mobile devices can help you easily build your own family history digital archive.

    When capturing images on your camera, scanner, or mobile phone, always use the highest quality and move the images to your computer hard drive for file renaming before backing up files to the Cloud and/or an external hard drive. 

    Flip-Pal Summer Sale

    The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the only fully-portable scanner that features a unique, gentle flat-bed operation for digitizing fragile family photos, documents and heirlooms. It's really two scanners in one: a traditional glass flat-bed scanner with flip-down cover and a unique see-thru scanner for digitizing oversize and awkward items.

    The see-thru feature is especially helpful for capturing images from photo albums and bound books. Remove the scanner cover, flip the scanner, and position the device to scan your item.

    Use the C-A-N method to add your image to your family history digital archive.

    Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner bundles are on sale this summer. Get ready for your family reunion and the upcoming holiday season. Save $30 on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Picture Keeper Bundle! Coupon code: SAS725

     

    P.S.: I bought my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner over three years ago and have used it for all kinds of digitizing projects. It's not my only scanner, but it's certainly the most fun to use! Yes, I am an Affiliate; I like it that much!

    Wednesday
    Jul312013

    The GRIP Report: Vol. 2. No. 2 Photo Collage

     

    Not-so-Wordless Wednesday -- Photos from the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh 2013.

    Top Row, from left -- Convent cemetery, La Roche College, campus tower.

    Middle Row -- Class Photo, Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS, Dr. Thomas W. Jones Instructor

    Bottom Row, from left -- Dr. Jones with Denise Levenick, Lecturers Noreen Manzella and Cathi Desmarais, evening lecture with Angela McGhie.

    Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 46 Next 15 Entries »