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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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    Monday
    May062013

    3 hrs 54 min with Traffic to #ngs2013

    Monday
    May062013

    I'll See You in Paradise (Road) for #ngs2013 

    Las Vegas By Any Other Name

    Genealogists love names. Misspelled surnames, mangled forenames, and oft-repeated town names are at the root of many research problems, but we can only imagine the experience of future Las Vegas family historians.

    The nickname, Vegas, Baby, like The Big Apple, holds a distinction as a wildly successful marketing ploy. But before this latest moniker, Las Vegas held other, equally popular nicknames.

    When early Las Vegas consisted of one long street of casinos and hotels, everyone knew what you meant by The Strip, even if you were in Los Angeles talking about a recent cross-desert junket, as in “I just got back from seeing Elvis on The Strip.”

    The Las Vegas Strip is not within Las Vegas proper, but refers to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard south of city limits that is home to the largest, flashiest, and most historic casinos and hotels. The nickname is often used to refer to a broader area encompassing other resort casinos or confused with Glitter Gulch or Fremont Street located in the center of the Las Vegas downtown casino area home to the Fremont Hotel, Golden Nugget, The Mint and other casinos.

    Las Vegas has always been the self-proclaimed Wedding Capital of the World – what genealogists would call a “Gretna Green” – and with only 250 miles separating Hollywood and Vegas, it’s not surprising that Vegas was a popular destination for quickie divorces as well.

    The Las Vegas gambling industry led to the nickname Lost Wages, and the easy availability of assorted (legal and illegal) pastimes spawned the moniker Sin City, and the more official Entertainment Capital of the World.

    Nothing Safe from Creative Vegas Street Names

    The 1980s brought widespread resort development to Las Vegas, quickly followed by an explosion in residential development. A brief look at any local map shows the unique Vegas spirit didn’t stop at designing fantasy casinos. We can only imagine the thoughts of future Vegas family historians searching for ancestors on Pillow Talk Court, Fast Lane, Jane Austin Avenue [sic], Vader Avenue, and Leia Street.

    See You on Paradise Road for #NGS2013

    Thankfully, it should be fairly easy to find our way around the NGS Conference area at the Las Vegas Hotel. I plan to be spending most of my time on Paradise Road.

    For More About Las Vegas Street Names –

    Tupac Lane Welcomes You: The Street Names of Las Vegas

    Vegas Today and Tomorrow (great historic photos)

     

    Image Credit: photo by David Vasquez, WikiMedia Commons, public domain

     

     

    Saturday
    May042013

    Need to Know for #NGS 2013

     

    Where's the Nearest In-N-Out?

    Attendees at NGS 2013 are in luck! There are sixteen In-N-Out locations in the Great State of Nevada, and TWELVE of these are in the greater Las Vegas Area.

    This bit of Southern California ephemera may be the last of it's kind.
    I've heard that the classic In-N-Out Location Guide
    was replaced with the smart phone app.  

    As native Angelenos, it's the first thing our family wants to know when we hit the road. And for fast answers we turn to our handy In-N-Out App. Back in the Dark Ages, before smart phones, we relied on the trusty In-N-Out Locator Card, now a bit of Southern California ephemera highly prized by burger fans (for more info on ephemera, see Caroline Pointer and the 48-Hour Ephemera Challenge).

    In-N-Out Burger App for Android or iPhone/iPad

    What's In-N-Out?

    The classic, SoCal drive-thru burger experience. Short menu, long lines.

    Not So Secret Anymore Menu

    Order off the Secret Menu like my sons: 4x4 Animal Style, Animal Fries and a Neapolitan Shake. Translation: 4 meat patties, 4 slices of cheese on a burger with In-N-Out secret sauce, grilled onions, and the works, along with fries topped with grilled onions and cheese melted under the heat, and a strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla shake. It's not for the weak.

    You will also find the "Protein Style" Burger (no bun, burger wrapped in crisp lettuce), and variations of the classic 4x4 such as 3x3 or Double Meat or Double Cheese, etc.  It's messy. Get extra napkins. And don't forget to take home a souvenir tshirt, too.

    Wednesday
    May012013

    Ding Dong, It's May

    Time for the May Girls' May Day Baskets

    May denise dd 1962 church

    My sister and I off to church on Easter morning. We were already
    experienced in the May Day Basket project by this age!

    Every year in preparation for the First of May, my sister and I were commandeered by our mother to make May Baskets. With a surname like "May" and two little girls, Mom was not about to let this opportunity for creative expression pass by.

    I don't remember much about the actual basket construction; they may have been put together with paper plates folded into a cone and filled with plastic flowers. It was the '60's! But I DO remember the delivery protocol. Strictest secrecy.

    My sister and I ran from house to house hanging garish handmade baskets on the doorknobs of each of our neighbors on the short little cul-de-sac where we lived in Orange County. Then, with giggles we rang the doorbell and ran away to watch our neighbor's feign surprise at the lovely gift on their front porch.

    Mom, the consummate scout leader and crafter, was in her element refilling our supplies and enjoying the fun.

    I recently came across a box of little baskets leftover from a year when my sons were young and I tried to get them interested in making May Day baskets. They thought the baskets were better used for starting fires and I quickly abandoned the project.

    To all my genealogy blogging friends, Ding Dong HAPPY MAY!

    Tuesday
    Apr302013

    Why #NGS2013? Why Vegas?

    Is it worth your time and money to attend a national genealogy conference? I think so, and I am honored to share my experiences today in a guest post on the NGS 2013 Conference Blog, Why NGS 2013? Why Vegas? 5 Reasons to Attend a National Genealogy Conference.

    You'll see that I'm a big fan of genealogy education and taking taking advantage of learning opportunities in many forms, whether by webinar, seminar, meeting experts, talking with vendors about new products and services, or attending lectures. Conferences bring together in one place so many ways to learn more about genealogy that it's impossible to pick just one favorite reason to attend.

    Fortunately, Las Vegas is practically next door to southern California which makes this event even higher on my "Can't Miss" list. If you will be attending NGS2013, please say "Hello" if you see me in the hall or classes. 

    What about your conference experiences?

    What do you learn from national meetings?

    Read more about NGS 2013 at the Conference Blog. And, thank you to NGS for inviting all Official Bloggers to submit a guest post for the Conference Blog!

    Friday
    Apr262013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Edna McClure and Walter George May

    I love finding buried treasure in a box of family keepsakes! I inherited two small boxes of photos, albums, and other items belonging to my paternal grandparents. This little medallion was rattling around in the corner of one box.

    May wedding medal 1

    GM Frigidare Sterling Silver Medallion,
    "To Edna on our Wedding Anniversary 1932"

    My online search for a General Motors Frigidaire medallion turned up several expired eBay listings for vintage medallion, but I have been unable to learn much about this Sterling Silver medal.

    I also found a carefully created photo album inside the box titled "Off to the Coast." It includes photographs of the couple's honeymoon trip from Nebraska to California in 1922. This helps identify the medallion as a probable ten year anniversary gift.

    This beautiful photograph of Edna and Walter May was not in the box of memorabilia where it might be expected. I found it tucked in the back of my baby book! It's another example of the way that family heirlooms can become easily misplaced and mixed in with other collections. If my sons had found the photograph some time in the future they would have no idea that this photo featured their great-grandparents.

    Maywedpix

    Edna McClure and Walter George May

    I am adding identification on the back of the photo in pencil, and enclosing it in a mylar sleeve. I've also printed the photo with a full caption on a sheet of acid-free paper. This is one of those images I don't want to lose, and I'm recording both the location of the physical photograph and the digital image on my archive catalog sheet.

    Monday
    Apr222013

    It's Official. Clark Kent and Lois Lane Are On the Job

     

    To Be Official or Not To Be Official: That is the Question.

    Recent discussion regarding the notion and nature of "Official" bloggers for genealogy events has caused some ruffled feathers and a few nasty hen-pecks in the yard.

    I've been blogging since 2007 and writing about conferences, seminars, and other genealogy events whenever I attended something I wanted to share. I have been an "Official" blogger for a few events, but mostly I have acted in an "unofficial" capacity.

    As a former newspaper reporter, I tend to think in terms of the 5Ws even while an event is unfolding around me. The old pyramid-style story is often framed in my mind before I get to my keyboard. Blogging about conferences and other genealogy experiences comes almost more easily than writing about my own family history. So, why have I bothered to request "Official" status at events rather than continue in an unofficial capacity?

    It all comes down to access. And every journalist worth his or her pencil wants to get the inside scoop on breaking news to share with her readers. Conference officials hold the key to that inside story, and they need the media to help spread the word. In the old days we used to get a "Press Pass." Sometimes you wrote a story, sometimes you didn't. It was all considered PR and part of doing business. That "Official" Press Pass to Disneyland made me the envy of my high school friends, but no one beat me up over it.

    Be Glad Clark Kent and Lois Lane Are On The Job

    Bloggers serve much the same purpose as an old-fashioned press corps. By using "Official" status, a conference or seminar can more easily distribute news to a group of "information vendors." Novice reporters wisely use their event access to get noticed by a target built-in audience, thereby increasing their own visibility. Experienced reporters can be relied on to see an event in the context of other similar events over many years; consider that a lack of articles is as much a critique of an event as a blasting commentary.

    I've never been particularly good at writing nasty reviews. I've preferred, instead, to heed my mother's advice, "If you can't say anything nice. . ."

    I don't plan to cover all facets of upcoming National Genealogical Society conference in Las Vegas. It would be impossible. An old-fashioned press corps would divide some of the "beats" among several reporters to insure all areas were covered. And, if Official Bloggers want to work out some "unofficial" NGS news beats, I am all for collaboration.

    I do plan to keep an eye on what my fellow NGS 2013 Official Bloggers are writing about the event. I don't want to simply rehash what's already been said, and it may be tough to find a fresh angle with nearly two dozen bloggers reporting throughout the conference.

    I may not write a dozen articles about NGS 2013, after all, I am attending the conference because I want to hear the speakers and sessions, but you can be sure that what I do write about will be honest and timely. Official or un-official.

    [My two cents.]

    Monday
    Apr222013

    Meet the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant Recipient Michael Savoca

    Michael Savoca Head Shot web

    I am pleased to introduce student genealogist Michael Savoca, a junior at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, as the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Grant recipient. Michael will receive a $500 cash award and full conference registration to the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, California June 7-9.

    Michael has been researching his family history for over a decade, and participating in online genealogy forums and message boards for nearly as many years. His expertise in Italian and Croatian research have made him a popular volunteer online and at his local Family History Center. He has been able to travel with family to their ancestral village in Croatia and complete research in original records provided by the parish. He has also worked extensively with Italian records and assisted with the records of the Gente di Mare genealogy website. 

    In addition to researching his Italian, Croatian, Irish, German, and Hungarian roots, Michael is interested in learning more about using DNA for genealogical research and about professional archival management. He is a history major at Kean University and would like to become a Certified Genealogist.

    Michael will attend the SCGS Jamboree in Burbank June 7-9 where he will receive the award Sunday, June 9 at the SCGS Scholarship Breakfast.

    “We are so pleased to be able to partner with the Freeman Student Genealogy Grant Program to support this outstanding future genealogist,” said Paula Hinkel, Jamboree co-chair and SCGS vice president. This is the third year that SCGS has provided a conference scholarship to the recipient of the grant award.

    Past recipients of the memorial grant include Elyse Doerflinger, A.C. Ivory, and Anthony Ray. 

    Funding for the 2013 Memorial Student Grant was provided by proceeds from the sale of my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Blog Book Tour in January 2013. A big THANK YOU to everyone who purchased a book during the book tour to help fund this project supporting student genealogists. For information about donating to the grant fund, please see the SWF Grant page.

    About the Grant Program: The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Program was established in 2011 to help young family historians pursue their genealogy research and educational goals. In recognition of Suzanne Freeman’s enthusiasm for the nationally recognized Jamboree, the award is directed toward a student attending the SCGS Jamboree. Suzanne Winsor Freeman was the mother of genealogy blogger Denise Levenick, www.theFamilyCurator.com.

    About SCGS: The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree has partnered with the grant program each year to offer complimentary conference registration to the award recipient. The annual Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree is a premiere regional genealogy conference offering national speakers, workshops, and demonstrations.

    Friday
    Apr122013

    Treasure Chest Thursday for Friday's What's Up Genealogy: Ephemera or Artifact

    Man in a Bottle

    Man in a Bottle, ca. 1957

    Don't be polite. What you're really wondering is, "What the heck is it?"

    My Dad didn't want it. Neither did my aunt, my sister, or anyone else. So, I took it. 

    First definition of ephemera: stuff no one else wants.

    Really. Ephemera is intended to be thrown away after use. It has a transitory specific one-time purpose. That folks tend to tuck the odd theater stub in a scrapbook or dry prom corsages is outside the intended purpose of the item. Hence, stuff that survives is less than common and more interesting to a lot of us ephemera aficionados. Of course, there's always the craftsman who repurposes an old photo in a piece of art as well.

    Man in a Bottle 5

    "Uncle Sam" 11-29-57

    You've seen the photos and now you know as much as I do. If you have any clues about this bit of gen-u-wine mid-century craftsmanship please leave a comment or join Caroline Pointer and me tonight on What's Up Genealogy, Google+ Hangout on Air. We are talking ephemera and odd artifacts and would love to hear what you think about this treasure.

    Thursday
    Apr112013

    Everyday Ephemera on Google+ with Caroline Pointer What's Up Genealogy?

    Whatsupgen

    We're talking about genealogy and ephemera tomorrow night on What's Up Genealogy Google+ Hangout On Air hosted by Caroline Pointer. What is ephemera? What do you do with it? How can it help you with your family history research? and, How much is enough? 

    I'll be chatting with Host Caroline Pointer beginning at 6pm looking forward to hearing about some of the more unusual bits of ephemera folks have found. Caroline's popular 48 Hour Ephemera Challenge returned last week with a fabulous Victorian photo album, and she's sure to have new treasures for the next rounds.

    Everyone is invited to attend the public Google+ Hangout. Search #WhatsUpGenealogy or click on the link for information on how to join. 

    Tomorrow I'm posting a few photos from my own collection as a preview for the Googlel+ Hangout. If anyone wants to research my "Uncle Sam" feel free! 

    Wednesday
    Apr102013

    Treasures in Your Attic? Join Me for the Utah Genealogical Association Spring Conference

    16th Annual South Davis Family History Fair

    NewImage

    Woods Cross High School north of Salt Lake City is the new location for the Utah Genealogical Association Family History Fair April 19 and 20, 2013 where I will be presenting the Friday night keynote "Treasures in the Attic: Every Keepsake Has a Story."

    This two-day event offers over one hundred family history sessions on topics covering a wide variety of subjects, from finding Irish and German ancestors to working with newspapers and cemetery records.

    On Saturday, April 20, I will present two sessions on preserving family treasures and signing copies of my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes:

    The Frugal Curator

    Archival storage doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Discover practical DIY (Do-It-Yourself) solutions that will save you time and money as you organize and store your family treasures. See how to make a family history time capsule for your next family reunion or event.

    The Things They Leave Behind: Caring for Family Keepsakes

    Learn how to care for common family treasures such as photo albums, loose photographs, Bibles, clocks, jewelry, and more.  View photos of damaged items, learn to identify common hazards such as silverfish, mold, acid migration. Discover what to save when you inherit a houseful of “treasures,” how and where to store your keepsakes, and how to set up a home archive so you can easily access items for research and sharing.

    Registration fees for this event are $15.00; a printed syllabus is available for an additional fee. More information is available at the Utah Genealogical Association Website.

    Monday
    Apr082013

    National Genealogical Society Conference App Now Available

    NGS Quad Graphic

    Building New Bridges: NGS 2013 Conference Las Vegas

    The National Genealogical Society has announced a new mobile Conference App for the 2013 Conference May 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The App is available for iOS, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phones, and web-enabled devices from the NGS Mobile App page.

    The App Dashboard will provide late-breaking information, alerts, a built-in Twitter feed, and the ability to sync personal schedules across devices. 

    The Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree was the first conference I attended with a mobile app on my smartphone and it added a new dimension to the conference experience. I especially like helpful updates on schedule and room changes, and the ability to create a personal schedule I can refer to throughout the day.

    I will be attending NGS 2013 in Las Vegas and sharing my experiences on The Family Curator and through Twitter and Facebook. Whether you will be in Las Vegas or following the conference from home, the new NGS Conference App will be helpful for keeping up with the action throughout the week. 

    Thursday
    Apr042013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Old Letters; What Do You Do With Found Ephemera?

    One of the biggest products of daily life seems to be paper. It's stacked up around my house, and it's one of the first things to deal with when you inherit a home after someone passes away. 

    A Cure for Rheumatism

    My mother-in-law saved envelopes for scratch paper. My aunt repurposed them by cutting off her name and address for a kind of DIY return-address label. And, nearly 100 years ago my Grandmother Arline used an envelope to write -- "Gum-go-wack, get enough for one qt. whiskey for rheumatism. one oz. 3 times a day."

    Envelope recipe blog

    Letter from E.B. Kinsel, Ruth, Nevada to Mrs. A.A. Parker, Wilder, Kansas

    The letter was sent from E.B. Kinsel, Arline's father. I know that Eliphaz Bigelow Kinsel worked for the railroad and was rarely at home in Kansas. In 1926, my grandmother Arline was married to Charlie Parker but she must have been living either on E.B.'s farm in Wilder or on Parker's farm.

    The other address noted at the top of the envelope -- R.W. McCleery of Benton is new to me. Looks like another clue to follow. 

    So, what exactly -- as a family historian -- do you do with "Found Ephemera" when you acquire a collection of papers?

    Digitize, Transcribe, Preserve

    Some folks would throw it away. Some might read the letter first, and then toss it. I tend to just keep on saving it. I unfold the letter, scan it and place it in an acid-free paper folder. The folders are filed by author and date in an archival vertical file box. I use the scanned image for transcribing. Any genealogical data like names, dates, events, and vital records such as neighborhood gossip (*smile*) are entered into my genealogy database program with the letter cited as the source of the information. 

    When I'm lucky, information from these bits of "found ephemera" help build a chain of evidence for a claim such a date or place of birth, marriage, or death. These tidbits are not uncommon. My ancestors lived at a distance from close family members and news traveled by letter; those letters were passed around like chocolates after dinner. They were read, re-read, and savored. Unlike the game of "Telephone" where a whispered message quickly becomes garbled and often reshaped as it makes it's way around a circle, the news found in letters doesn't change when the letter moves from hand to hand.

    I'm looking at the photo of this envelope today and wondering what the letter inside is all about. . . or if there is a letter inside. I'm also wondering if one ounce of whiskey three times a day really does help rheumatism. . .

    On April 12, 2013  I'll be talking with Caroline Pointer of 4YourFamilyStory.com about finding and caring for ephemera for Caroline's What's Up Genealogy show on Google+ Hangouts. Join us! 

    Tuesday
    Mar262013

    Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources: Free Genealogy Webinar

    SCGS Jamboree Webinar Series -- Saturday 6 April 2013

    Register now for the next webinar sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree Extension Program, and join me for Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 10:00 AM - Pacific, 11:00 AM - Mountain, 12:00 PM - Central, 1:00 PM - Eastern.

    Whether you’ve inherited a house full of keepsakes or only wish you had more family treasures, home sources may hold the clues you need to break through brick walls and solve family history problems. And you don’t have to own home sources to use them as research resources. 

    We've all got them -- brick walls, obstacles, road blocks to progress in our genealogical reseach. Home Sources are one of the most underused resources in solving family history puzzles. Photographs, letters, documents and artifacts can provide direct answers to research problems, or clues to new research opportunities. 

    I am honored to be part of the SCGS Jamboree Extension Webinar Series and look forward to sharing a few items from my own family collections that have helped push my research over the wall. From clippings tucked between the pages of books, to cryptic captions on the back of old photos, family keepsakes often hide great stories in plain sight.

    Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources --

    • Why use home sources?
    • Common and uncommon home sources and where to find them
    • Locating potential sources in public repositories
    • Strategies for working with material family collections
    • What to look for in documents, letters, photos, and artifacts
    • Case study examples

    Register Here prior to Saturday, 6 April to attend the free webinar, Break Down Brick Walls with Home Sources. After the live webinar on April 6, the webinar will be available to SCGS members in the Members Only area of the website.

    View the complete SCGS Jamboree Extension Series schedule for more great educational webinars available in the series..

     

     

     

     

    Thursday
    Mar212013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Digitizing and Examining a 1909 German Songbook

    I love surprises from the Archives! Recently I pulled out several old German books that my father gave me after my grandmother passed away. As the only family member who spoke German (much better then than now) I was the logical recipient. I thought I remembered a Bible in the collection, but alas, the book was a German language hymnal.

    Making a Digital Copy

    First, I wanted to digitize the book so I could work with the images rather than the fragile old book. It's poor condition and thickness made it a good candidate for my digital camera. I set up my copy stand outdoors under natural light and used a remote shutter release to achieve the best photo. Then I tried both a white and a black background.

    May wg 1909 songbook 1May wg 1909 songbook 2

    May wg 1909 songbook 8May wg 1909 songbook 5

    I think the white works best for the cover and the black works best for the inside pages. the contrast makes the book itself stand out better. What do you think?

    Description

    The cover is made of inexpensive embossed cover-stock cardboard similar to the covers of popular photo albums and scrapbooks so many of us find in our family collections. Overall the book is 3 3/4-inches wide and 5 3/8-inches high. Someone (Grandma May?) added a strip of modern tape to keep the spine in place with the cover. The pages are edged in gilt. 

    The title page reads:

    Kirchen-Gesangbuch
    für
    Evangelische-Lutherische Gemeinden
    ungeänderter
    Augsburgischer Confession

    darin des sel. Dr. Martin Luthers und anderer geistreichen
    Lehrer gebräuchlichste Kirchen-lieder enthalten sind.

    St. Louis, Mo.
    Concordia Publishing House.
    1905 

    The book is in fair to poor condition. The pages appear to be intact but the covers have started to pull away from the binding. There are scattered stains and blotches throughout. There is no handwriting other than a notation on the flyleaf in pencil on the flyleaf that looks like "Goldlock 1.20."

    Inside the front cover, I found a newspaper clipping from a German language newspaper of the hymn, "Hochzeitgefang," translation: Wedding Song. I also found a what looks like a trimmed decoration from a Christmas card between pages 242 and 243.

    Information

    Of course, to me the real treasure is the cover embossed with my grandfather's name and a date. The fact that the book is a German Lutheran songbook confirms his association with the German community and the Lutheran church in America. A quick Google search for the hymnal shows that it was a popular book at the turn of the century.

    Walter G. May was born in July 1894 in Bennet, Nebraska, so I wondered about the significance of the date on the cover of the book, 4 April 1909. The date fell on a Sunday in 1909, one week before Easter, or Palm Sunday. The Easter Season is traditionally a time for welcoming new members into the Catholic Church and I thought the Lutheran Church tradition might be similar. If so, Walter would have been 14 years old at the time, a common age for Confirmation.

    Through FindAGrave.com I had previously located the little Lutheran cemetery where Walter's parents were buried. It was associated with an adjacent church that has a very nice website and a "Contact the Pastor" page. Within 24 hours of my query, the Pastor had responded and kindly looked for a confirmation record for Walter G. May in the church records. Although he did not find a record, he agreed that the date indicated the hymnbook was probably a confirmation gift.

    This little book added quite a bit to the very little I know about my grandfather's early years --

    • It confirms his Lutheran religion
    • It strongly suggests his membership and confirmation in a local church
    • It suggests that he read and spoke German
    • It suggests he may have carried the book at his wedding

    With further research I might be able to learn more about the kind of congregation that used this particular hymnal and locate the church attended by Walter and his family.

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