August 2014 M T W T F S S « Jul 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Family meals do more than just bring on mouthwatering behaviors. Those favorite aromas and flavors stir up wonderful memories that make the devouring of the meal a more delightful experience. It’s no wonder that when we reminisce at a family get-together the conversation often invites stories of mom’s baked chicken or grandma’s blackberry pie.
To savor those family recipes for your use and to preserve for the next generation, consider adding them to the family tree. Here are two easy ways to help gather those ingredients and stories. Don’t forget to add pictures of Aunt Jen to keep along with the recipe and of the family enjoying the cooked results!
Invite family members to assist in the compiling of family heritage recipes into a “Jones” Heritage Cookbook. Having a bound or binder style cookbook with generations of family cooks will delight any new in-law to the family. It doesn’t have to be professionally done with all of the self-printing options available today. With a laser printer, card stock, and 3-ring binders you can tackle the book binding at home. Today there are many options for printing a family cookbook from online software to print-on-demand companies. But it’s just as easy to put the book together yourself and have printed the local mom & pop printer.
As the family comes together for meals and various events during the year, ask each member to bring along several copies of their own creations on recipe cards to swap & share. Also have them attach or print a personal photo onto the backs of their own cards. These recipe cards will ensure you increase the size of the Family Recipe Box and include the current generations into the Heritage Cookbook.
Let me know how your project goes!
Leaf’n through my own family’s recipes has inspired me to whip up a template that can be used for this project. (I’ll post the results when completed.)
Most childhood memories involve listening to tall-tales at the feet of our older family members. As you look towards the family for source documents do not overlook the stories that may contain important clues.
Interviewing a family member can be a simple process of taking notes during family gatherings to the more complex project of videotaping. No matter what the approach, the most important part of interviewing is to get the information documented.
So what do you need to get up and going on your interviewing?
Not much. Consider this tool list for the upcoming holiday gatherings:
The questions you pose to perspective interviewees may be specific regarding them or the family. But do set aside those questions when the interviewee is very forthcoming with stories and other details. You just never know where those stories will lead you!
Below are two websites that offer suggestion lists for typical questions you may wish to include on your list. No matter what questions you ask or how you record the answers, most important is that you save a piece of family folklore before it slips away to time.
Story Arts, Collecting Family Stories may be for kids but I find it pretty useful for adults too! http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/roots/family.html
Family Folklife Interview has a nice listing of possible questions to consider for interviews.
Leaf’n a family legacy,
During a recent genealogy course it became apparent how online databases have changed the way beginners enter the hobby of genealogy. Microfilm readers are losing their status as record viewers as many researchers opt to use online digitized records. And who can blame them? Searching from home in your jammies makes genealogy very appealing. But then again, it also skips over much of the research process beginners would benefit.
So in an effort to help some recent newbies to this process, I’ll be posting tips of genealogy basics that will correspond to references you may consider having on your bookshelf. I hope you follow along and join in these discussions.
Start with YOU!
Ready to delve into your family tree? It’s easy, just begin with what you already know. Using a notebook or blank family group sheets, write down the vital statistics of yourself then each family member. Vital statistics are the birth, marriage, divorce, and death information making us each unique. If it makes it easier to record, begin your page with your parents’ information then for siblings and yourself.
There are a few standards that help us complete a full collection of these family details:
Write each family member’s name in full by using their GIVEN (first name), Middle, and Surname (last name). ex. John Robert Smith
Write each female’s name in full according to their maiden name.
ex. Amanda Eliza Cummings. Do notNot her married name of Smith.
Place nicknames in quotations to make it clear they were not their birth names.
ex. John Robert “Filbie” Smith
When noting dates, follow in the format of DAY MONTH YEAR.
ex. 5 December 1896 or 5 Dec. 1896
This format alleviates misinterpretation when dates occur in numerals or in other countries with differing format preferences.
If you know where each of their vital information took place, note those details as well by their city, county, and state.
ex. Jersey City, Philip County, Maryland
When you have tapped your brain beyond return (smile), look around your house for items that can help fill in your missing information.
Do you have a newspaper obituary from Grandma Phila’s funeral?
Just where has your dad’s high school yearbook been hiding?
Take a look around and gather documents and references your family has tucked away for safe keeping. They will be very helpful on your next step in this family tree mystery.
Do not be discouraged if you find many unknown vitals regarding family members in your recollection. This is where contacting family members for family documents and oral histories will begin to help to fill the blanks and prepare you for researching the unknown.
Leaf’n thru the steps,
See Tony Burrough’s reference Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree, p. 133-145.
Blank family group sheets can be found in numerous styles and free online. Here’s a great starting point to choose forms for your particular needs. Cyndi’s List (forms).
Up next post: Conducting Family Interviews.
This is a proud moment for our Mt. Zion Cemetery Board as we’ve sustained 10 years of restoring a local cemetery, Mount Zion Cemetery, Festus, Missouri to a respectful state. What started out as my passion for genealogy has turned into nearly a decade of returning pride to our local community. I cannot thank the local supporters enough for their commitments to aid the cemetery’s well being.
I’ll post more on this cemetery & others as I go but with this blog post, I wish to leave you with one tip: Get involved with your passion & make history happen!
Our next event is coming up & you are invited to join the support effort through donations, assisting the raffles, and enjoying the evenings company!
Contact me for dinner reservations or other questions regarding this event: email@example.com
Mount Zion Cemetery Benefit Dinner & Silent Auction
Saturday, September 10, 2011
held at American Legion, 849 American Legion Drive, Festus, Mo.
“Celebrating 10 years of a community effort
in preserving Mount Zion Cemetery”
Cocktail Hour (cash bar) 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Dinner Service 6:30 p.m.
Sliced Roast Beef & Turkey
Tea & coffee Cost: $25 per guest
Auction proceeds will benefit the Mount Zion Cemetery, Festus, Mo.
“The Destiny of Our Future is the Preservation of Our Past”
Leaf’n & lov’n local history,
This summer was likely as busy for you as it was for me. And sadly, the coming month appears to be just as busy. But don’t fret, you can still make some headway in your genealogy project.
First things first: If you cannot work on your genealogy on a regular bases, organization should be your top priority.
Dedicate a table or desk for genealogy. Having a place where your genealogy can “hang out” will enable you to return to your last work session without much effort.
Setup a staging system. Use stackable or hanging file sorters and mark each for different stages of your research.
To keep your staging system simple & organized:
Date your research notes from each session at the repository or online databases.
Date and paperclip the citations with each document before adding it to the Inbox file. Knowing where you left off is essential to keeping your thoughts in order when returning to your genealogy desk.
An oldie but goodie reference, The Weekend Genealogist by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk, has additional time saving tips to keep your genealogy from being abandoned.
Practicing what I preach, I’m off to dive into some much needed research while I have some unexpected free time.
Leaf’n through thick & thin.
I received a call last night from an older family member regarding a letter from a family researcher. The researcher requested information to determine if her family was part of our family. So while I make contact with this possible cousin, I’m looking at how one can make the best attempt at making a family connection through the old fashion way, snail mail.
No matter if you know the individuals or if you’re taking a chance through the telephone directory, your letter for requesting family information must do it’s job the first time. What is that job? Its job is to peak the contacted party’s interest to return a response.
Think of these few questions before you stamp that envelope:
Overall, be direct with your intentions and offer enough information so the contacted can respond fully and without missing a family connection. In my case, the requester gave all avenues of contact and I chose to use email to respond quickly to the request.
Leaf’n you with best wishes in your responses,
Everyone has them, a box or two of old photos needing attention. Many may even need mending. Here’s a few tips to get those photos out of the box, handled safely, and introduced into the family tree.
SORTING (organizing and notating)
Set aside a day of the week or month with a dedicated table to organize your photos. Unsorted photos can be challenging. So decide which may be best for you to tackle the chore:
You’ll need a few supplies: archival photo boxes, a soft lint-free cloth, a soft leaded pencil, a scanner, and photo sleeves.
There are two options to notating the photographs: on the photograph or on the protector the photograph will be housed. Notation on the photographs should be done with a photo pencil of soft lead often found in art supply stores. Never use ink pens. Mark photographs in the margins along the front or along the margins on the back using light pressure on a hard, clean surface.
Scanning photos will aid the longevity of your families images and enable you to share them. It’s also a great way to protect photos, damaged or not, leaving the originals clear of wear and tear through repeated handling.
Saving the images in file names that are short in description (less than 10 characters without spacing) will enable you to relocate easier for future use. Save them in tif and jpg format. Tif will allow for less degradation of the digital images and jpg will make for shareable use in emails, online groups, and other programs. Make backup copies and share with family members and put one away in a safe deposit box.
Setting the scanner properties to 300 dpi and true color (or similar settings) is a good overall choice for limited storage size and quality.
PRESERVING & STORING
Separate out the damaged photos so they can be handled with care. Also separate out photos that contain tape, glue residue, or need to be specially removed from album pages or glass. These will need special attention to not destroy additional photos in your collection. These should also be scanned or photographed prior to having them restored as a precaution.
You may feel the urge to tape up the fraying edges of photos or glue together photos that have been torn apart. I suggest you purchase archival photo sleeves such as these at Gaylord. Clear sleeves offer a static cling effect to keep the photo in the sleeve and allow for viewing without repeated removal lessening additional damage. Choose a size that offers the photo room to slip into and remove easily. Lightly clean away dust and fingerprints with a soft, lint free cloth. Then tuck them into a photo box for organizing and safe keeping. Photos needing to see a specialist for severe damage or tape & glue removal can especially make use of the sleeves for protection.
Negatives deserve just as much special attention as the photos. You can find negative archival sleeves in varying sizes in photo shops or online. Many have 3-ring holes to keep them safely bound in a binder. Many home scanners today are equipped to scan negatives so do not throw these out. These negatives are still worthy of their purpose as an archival backup, especially if the original photos have been damaged, faded, or lost.
Store your photos and negatives in a room that has stable heating and cooling, low indirect lighting, and away from chemicals such as cigarette smoke.
Use digital photo software to edit photos you’ve scanned using touch up tools to restore damaged areas or color fade issues. You can also add the names of the individuals in the photos on the front margins then print and share at the family reunions.
For more fun with your pictures, host a photo organizing scanning night with friends or family. Be sure to make duplicates of photos you think others may wish to have. It could make for a great photo swapping evening!
Leaf’n through the memories,
The spring and early summer are fabulous times of the year for family gatherings and picnics. So why not make the family cemetery one of the destinations?
1) Take along a picnic basket, a blanket, a camera, and a pencil & paper on a clipboard. Don’t forget to invite the elders down to the youngest family members for the day trip. A digital recorder or camcorder may also be brought along to capture the moments.
2) Draw a simple overview map of the cemetery layout. Mark on the map all of the areas where family members are known to be buried. Record the condition of the cemetery. Is it well kept or is it in poor condition? Is it still an active cemetery or no longer used for burials? Is there a caretaker?
3) Walk the cemetery. Allow the elders to walk alongside the youngest members of the family. This may help rekindle stories and allow them to continue to pass down through the family.
4) Consult with the elders on past burials they witnessed. With a bit of reminiscing, the elders may be able to recall the events and customs used when past family members were buried. They may especially point out unmarked graves of loved ones where documents fail to assist or are no longer available. Be sure to add the information to your map.
5) Draw the layout of each family plot. Note the location of the plot. Also note the number of graves & known burials in the each plot. Record each headstone inscription in writing and note the condition of the stone and the plot. Has the stone been damaged or toppled over? Has the grave settled?
6) Photograph the cemetery and each family plot. Don’t be stingy on photographing as a digital camera works well for this project. Photograph an overview of the cemetery then narrow to the location of each family plot. Make sure to note each photographed location that is taken on your map. Take photographs of each family plot, then each individual headstone in the plot, front and rear.
7) After the picnic, scan and input your map details into your family tree software. I am not the best artist and also use drawing software to recreate the map into a shareable and usable format. It is also good to compare your map to historical maps of the cemetery if available.
In former years, cemeteries were a part of the social custom of our culture. Today they seem to be out of sight and out of mind. Sadly that is causing a detachment and an overwhelming disrespect for cemeteries in general. After 10 years of restoring the family cemetery, I hope to never see it disrespected again. And to think something as simple as a picnic visit can help reverse that trend.
Leaf’n a Legacy,
Family tree software has its own ways of getting disorganized compared to the paper piles on the desk. Here’s a few tips to help keep the data updates hassle free and in top shape.
Set aside a time each week or month to do some software housekeeping and you’ll always be ready for making current TO-DO lists for your research trips.