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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Friday
    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.

    Monday
    Jul292013

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

    Steve robinson

    Fans of Jefferson Tayte will be happy to know that the American genealogist will be back next spring with more family history sleuthing in Great Britain. Author Steve Robinson let the word out recently via Twitter that he is planning another past-narrative adventure for Tayte, and it's my guess that the fourth novel in the series will also be set in Great Britain.

    In answer to my email query about the new release, Steve would only say:

    . . . it will have a past and present narrative again this time, much like with To the Grave in that it will be told from a single point of view from a woman, this time in the Edwardian era.  It will also be linked to some true events from the period. . .

    Of course, the English setting makes it great fun for the reader, because we can well-imagine J.T.'s inner voices as he tries to conquer his fear of flying to  move forward with his research "across the pond."  If you haven't met Tayte yet, summertime may be the perfect time to catch up with the storyline. But, also know that each of the novels is a also great stand-alone read.

     In the Blood   introduced Jefferson Tayte, a professional American genealogist who is sent to England by a wealthy client to track down the truth behind a family mystery. Tayte discovers more problems than undecipherable handwriting or misplaced records, he finds an entire legacy founded on deception. And, of course, J.T.'s meddling puts him in the middle of a dangerous situation. Read my review of In the Blood and my exclusive interview with author Steve Robinson here:

    Book Review: In the Blood Genea Fiction and Exclusive Interview with Steve Robinson

    Within a few months of its release, In the Blood was selected by Amazon UK as one of the "Best Books of 2011" and has gone on to be a 'Kindle Customer Favourite' on both sides of the Atlantic.

    J.T.'s adventures continue in To the Grave (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery) , a poignant story of love and family relationships revealed through the narrative set in England of the 1940's and the present day. Real-life genealogists challenged with adoption research will recognize some of the problems J.T. encounters as he attempts to reunite his client with his birth mother.

    To the Grave was awarded the Family Tree Magazine 'Seal of Approval' in June 2012 and recommended by Goodreads and the Kindle Users Forum.

     The Last Queen of England  , Robinson's most recent novel in the series was published last fall, and quickly moved to the top of the Kindle book charts. The ebook was followed by the paperback edition and selected as a UK Amazon Kindle Forum Book of the Month for February 2013. 

    Described as "the ultimate heir hunt," I found The Last Queen of England to be a fast-paced thriller in the style of the Da Vinci Code with a genealogical twist. Tayte is visiting in England when his best friend is murdered, and Tayte becomes the killer's next target. It's hard to put down this book; plan for a late night as you near the hair pulling conclusion.

    Catch up with J.T. this summer, and be ready for No. 4 in the Jeffereson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mystery Series.

    Read More About Author Steve Robinson

    Steve generously joined me at The Family Curator for two interviews last year:

    A Chat With Steve Robinson About The Last Queen of England

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

    Visit Steve Robinson website for more. All three books are now available in eBook or paperback editions.

           

     

    Wednesday
    Jul242013

    The GRIP Report Vol. 2 No. 1: Hit the Ground Running

    Angela Packer McGhie, evening presenter at GRIP

    Jet-lag just "doesn't work" here at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh. Attendees converged at La Roche College Sunday afternoon and were in the classrooms early Monday morning for the first sessions. I wasn't the only one who traveled across time zones to get here. The daily conference newsletter reported that genealogists came from 34 states and one foreign country:

    • Pennsylvania: 38
    • Ohio: 15
    • New Jersey: 10
    • Maryland: 9
    • Virginia, Indiana: 8 each
    • Colorado, Massachusetts, New York: 7 each
    • Washington: 7
    • Michigan: 5
    • Texas: 4
    • Delaware, Georgia, Ilinois, Minnesota, West Virginia: 3 each
    • Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, South Carolina, Wisconsin: 2 each
    • Italy, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, NewHampshire, Tennessee, Vermont: 1 each

    The institute sessions this year include six courses taught by a roster of outstanding genealogy educators. I'm taking Dr. Tom Jones inagural course based on his new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. 

    Genealogy Camp

    I've heard a few people refer to GRIP as Genealogy Camp, and it does have a bit of the Camp atmosphere because of the small group setting with 150 students. The classrooms, dorms, and cafeteria are all situated together at LaRoche -- convenient and congenial. But the atmosphere is more like graduate school, with "focus and discipline" (as Dr. Jones notes) as the goal.

    That is, except for MOVIE NIGHT! I remember those much-anticipated evenings at summer camp, and Tuesday evening, GRIP directors Elissa Scalise Powell and Deborah Lichtner Deal arranged a special showing of the season premier of Who Do You Think You Are? following the evening genealogy presentation by Angela Packer McGhie.

    It was great fun to follow Kelly Clarkson on her family history journey and watch her reaction to learning about her ancestors. But, the biggest round of applause was reserved for GRIP instructor and WDYTYA researcher Josh Taylor. You don't always get to go to camp with a movie star!

    Sunday
    Jul212013

    Orange County Summers ca. 1960

    What's Are You Doing for Summer Vacation?

    La habra library

    I remember when the big question during the final weeks of the school year was always the same, "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    "Nuthin'"

    My friends were carted off on exotic camping vacations to Yellowstone, or spent weeks visiting relatives in Omaha. Hardly anyone I knew went to summer school; it seemed mostly for kids who had to make up classes after they were out for weeks with mono, or for anyone who had the misfortune to flunk chemistry.

    Summer in Orange County, California was hot, smoggy, and wonderfully dull. My mom planned just enough activities to keep us out of trouble (so she thought), and the rest of our days were spent playing with friends, reading, and inventing stuff in the backyard. With four years between us, my sister may remembers those days differently, but I loved the gift of freedom and the challenge "Girls, go find something to do."

    B-O-R-E is a Four Letter Word

    Summers were never boring. We spent days building elaborate Barbie houses and then whined because we ran out of time to play with them. On hot afternoons, we kneeled in the dirt along the shady side of the house and collected iron filings. What do you do with iron filings? I don't know, but they're cool.

    As a pre-teen I babysat for neighbors, ironed hankies for pocket money, and was the driving force behind a variety of start-up businesses. We sold lemonade, lemons, and avocados. We printed out a newspaper using an office mimeograph master and a tray of Knox gelatin. We put on plays, talent shows, and musicals.

    The 60's were good years to keep teenagers busy. I have more memories of psychedelic sunsets at scout camp than I do of concerts and music. Our groovy skits provided campfire entertainment and the best camp crafts were candles and love-beads.

    The activities changed with the years, from iron filings to scout camp to camp counselor, but one annual event remained as popular when I was 15 as when I was 5 -- the public library summer reading program.

    Every June the public library promoted summer reading with a themed program filled with contests and activities. It was the best part of summer for a nerdy girl who loved to read. The only problem was the 10 book limit on how many titles you could check out. Ten books is hardly enough when you are whipping through the Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew series.

    I haven't collected iron filings in a long time, but I still see summer as a time to try something new and to read my way through the heat. I mark the end of the school year with my own list of summertime goals, although goals is too business-like to suit the mood of summer. Dreams would be better. Summertime is dream-time. A time to master a new skill, discover a new talent, or read a new book.

    This summer I'm working my way through a stack of new books, learning to make my step-mom's Texas fried chicken, and working through Dr. Tom Jones' Mastering Genealogical Proof. Oh, and I'm going returning to the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), or Genealogy Camp as I've heard it called.

    "So, whatareyoudoingforsummervacation?"

    Thursday
    Jul182013

    Awkward Family Photos, Panorama Group Style

    Camp pano boys

    Don't squirm, Little Bro
    Remember the old banquet-style photographs I recently dehumidified and unrolled? I've had a lot of fun looking at the details through my Magnabrite globe and on my computer.

    I scanned the camp photo with my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and reassembled the 18 images using the included EasyStitch software. The stitching process was finished in only three minutes and gave me a complete digital image of the 8 x 26-inch photograph.

    And, look what I found --

    Camp pano sign

    Genealogically Interesting

    The photograph was snapped August 21-28, 1948 at Hume Lake [California] for the Inter-Church Bible Conference. That means that my mom and aunt (pictured below and outlined in blue) were there with people from their church group and other, probably local Orange County, churches. Anyone with ancestors in Orange County, California who attended a fundamental Christian church about 1948 might find their family members in this group photo. 

    Now, I need to pin down the name of Mom and Auntie's church at that time. Although this looks like a camp for church members of all ages, I don't see my grandparents. They were probably  home enjoying the break with their two girls away for the week! 

    Inter Church Camp, Hume Lake, California 1948

    Awkward Moments

    Looking closer at the photo, I found some intriguing drama, and some humorous actions captured on film. The image above is a thumbnail version; if you click on it, a full-size photo should open so you can follow along:

    First, check out where everyone is looking. The kids and teens are all dutifully staring directly at the photographer. But, look at Boss Lady on the far left (outlined in green). The lady with the "pocketbook" gripped tightly under her arm. Is she looking at that cute baby in the top row? Or, is she keeping an eye on the teenage boys further along the line?

    A few other people aren't looking at the camera -- the baby is watching something more interesting, Mom? And then, look at the folks on the right side of the photo, selected in the red boxes. What's going on over there? 

    The adults are all behaving pretty well in this photo, not surprisingly. Even the teenagers are keeping their hands under control. Note the protective hands placed on the women's and girls' shoulders by nearby males. The guy in the top row doesn't quite know where to place his hand so he settles for the girl's throat. Scary!

    It's the kids along the front who are having the most fun. Outlined in green, from left to right, check out:

    • the little girl trying to hide her nail biting
    • the boy blowing a championship bubble-gum bubble
    • the kid waving
    • the big brother throttling little brother and holding his chin up

    I've probably missed a few more graceless movements captured in time; leave a comment with your own additions. And watch what you're doing in your next group photo! 

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