Denise Levenick, The Family Curator
I love old things, and I’m passionate about preserving family keepsakes.
I live in an old house in Pasadena, California with a growing archive of family keepsakes. Until 2008 I taught journalism and English literature at an all-girls high school located in an old home in my neighborhood. Some days I walked to school like my ancestors, some days I drove my snappy red scooter.
The Family Curator began when I created a course called Reading Women’s Lives. Students learned basic historical research skills and practiced literary and social history analysis to decipher the story of a young woman’s life as revealed through her correspondence.
The life story they uncovered, and the one hundred letters they transcribed, belonged to my grandmother, Arline Kinsel.
The school project was chronicled in an online journal that grew into The Family Curator blog, and was featured at Shades of the Departed online magazine. After leaving the classroom in 2008, I set about learning best practices for working with historical materials. I learned about genealogy, collections, digitizing, cataloging, and preservation, and eventually adapted professional methods recommended by libraries and museums to create a family archive at home.
I also discovered that there are many family curators looking for help preserving their ancestors’ treasures. I was honored when The Family Curator blog was nominated by readers and voted as one of Family Tree Magazine’s 40 Best Genealogy Blogs in 2010 and again in 2011.
The Family Curator blog has grown into a book with even more ideas on creating and maintaining a family archive. How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records, now available from Family Tree Books, Amazon.com, and retail booksellers.
Arline's love of drama -- and melodrama -- have inspired me to write classic tales of romance and suspense as Miss Penelope Dreadful for the Shades of the Departed photography blog, edited by footnoteMaven.
When I’m not writing, blogging, or researching, I enjoy knitting, quilting, and cross-stitching future keepsakes for my two grown sons and my grandsons, cooking for family and friends, and helping my contractor husband restore old homes.
I have roots in Kansas, Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Germany and love researching in old courthouses and town halls.
Whether you’ve inherited a trunk filled with family keepsakes or a shoebox of old letters, I hope you will find helpful ideas at The Family Curator for preserving and sharing your family treasures.
I’d love to hear from you.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Association of Professional Genealogists
- California Genealogical Society
- New England Historic Genealogical Society
- Phi Beta Kappa Society
- Southern California Genealogical Society
Attendance at Conferences and Seminars
- Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, 2012
- SCGS Jamboree 2007-2012, Burbank, CA
- New England Regional Genealogical Conference 2011, Springfield, MA
- Roots Tech Conference 2011, Salt Lake City
- National Genealogical Society Conference 2011, Salt Lake City
- Family History Expos 2010, Pleasantville, CA; St. George, UT
- NEHGS Research Weekend 2009, Boston
- Monterey Peninsula College 2008-09, Distance Learning
- Family Research Studies: Genealogy I and II, 2008-09