thegenealogygirl


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas 1952

 

COSTELLO Christmas, 25 December 1952

25 December 1952, from l-r:  Uncle Frank (barely peeking out), Auntie V, Grandma Deane holding Uncle C.

I love this adorable Christmas photo!

 

There is just so much to love about it.  The little Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the center of the room may be my favorite part.  It’s so perfect for my sweet little Auntie V to help decorate and enjoy.  But then there is my Grandma, squatting down, wearing peep-toe heels, holding a baby and somehow keeping her balance.  And what about that strand of pearls?  This may be the only time I’ve ever seen her wearing a strand of pearls.  My Grandma was more the hunting and fishing type.  I also love the ball toy.  My own children had two different updated versions of this same toy.  And of course, that hobby horse is fantastic!  One last little gem to point out is Grandma’s only sibling peeking in just a tiny bit from the left.

Do you have any favorite family Christmas photos?

 

 

And just for fun – here is the original scan before I worked a little PhotoShop magic:

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I straightened, cropped, edited out dust and adhesive residue, and repaired the portions that were torn away by tape.  I prefer to remove distractions from old photos.  How do you feel about editing old photos?

 

 


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Spreading Genealogy JOY! one Brick Wall at a Time

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GUYS!

 

I am literally bursting with joy as I type.

Several years ago I met a sweet, elderly, cheerful woman who also volunteers at my local Family History Center.  I was shocked when she told me that her father is her brick wall.

I don’t know why I was shocked.  It’s a story I hear a lot.  I suppose it might be because she is an elderly Mormon lady and we Mormons tend to know a lot about our family trees…?

We talked for a bit and honestly, she didn’t say anything that gave me ideas on how to figure it all out.

Time passed.

I hadn’t seen her.

A few months ago I prepared a class on DNA Basics to teach at my local FHC and I started thinking about my friend.  Had she solved it yet?  If not, had she DNA tested yet?

It wasn’t long after that she happened to walk into the center during my shift to talk to someone else.  I asked – had she solved it, had she tested?

The answers were no and yes.  But the DNA results hadn’t helped her.

My inner genealogist/detective/puzzle-solver started doing this:

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And it was all I could do to calmly ask if she would be willing to let me take a peek at her DNA results.

I was ANYTHING but calm on the inside.  I was full on Hermione raising my hand as high as possible wanting to shout, “Let me try!  Let me try!!!”

She told me about a granddaughter who has been working on it and some theories she has and she told me about some new discoveries they have made that they are hoping will help.

Like, as in one document.

(But I suppose when you have literally been searching for 50 years, even one new document that leads you nowhere feels like an accomplishment).

There I sat, with a kind smile, understanding eyes, gentle head nods all masking my internal jumping up and down yelling, “Pick me, pick me!  I reeeeeeeeeally want to try to help you!!!!!”

She agreed to give me access to her Ancestry DNA.  But it was totally in a, “Do you know how many people have tried to help me over the years?” kind of way.

One thing led to another, and a few weeks later I was sitting on my cozy couch with my laptop going through her DNA matches.

I could see notes made by her granddaughter.  I found her tree.  I found a blog her granddaughter put together outlining every bit of detail they had.  Which was almost nothing.

I started sorting.  I took every scrap of a lead in each record and dug deeper than they had ever considered going.  I created a tree for the person her father listed as someone who would always know how to find him.

I compared that tree to her DNA matches trees.  I started grouping her matches into clusters.  Those clusters started lumping together into two groups.  Even her matches without trees were matching other matches in just two groups.

The woman who was listed as the person who would always know where her father was?  That woman’s parents had the same first and middle names that my friend had been told might be her father’s parents’ names.  Those potential parents had a son born at the right time in the right place to be my friend’s father.  He just had a different name.  That son, the firstborn son, completely disappears at about the time my friend believes her father became estranged from his parents.

Oh boy.

The stars were aligning.

Did I just begin the end of a 50-year journey for my friend?

(Insert clapping, dancing, shouting for joy – all loud enough for our entire small town to hear!)

And then I reined it in.  There was more work to do.

But my hypothesis was looking pretty fantastic, so I emailed my friend and told her I had found some interesting things and would she have time to come see me so that I could show her what I had discovered?  In fact, I suggested that she could come to my DNA Basics class in a few days and I could show her after or we could meet the following Thursday.

Sure enough, she came to my class.

After class, I pulled out my laptop and began the slow build.

I showed her the US Consular record that she already had.  I showed her that woman who her father listed as someone who would always know where he was.  I showed her that woman’s family, including her siblings and the parents whose first and middle names matched what she believed her grandparent’s first and middle names might be.

She stopped and said, “But their last name is Key, not Campbell.”

Yes, yes it is.

I gently suggested that when a young man becomes estranged from his family – so estranged that he never goes home again – it is not uncommon for that young man to change his name.

I explained that while I wouldn’t call my hypothesis solid yet, so far, there was not another possible set of parents emerging from her DNA matches or from any documents.

I offered a research plan that we could follow to work through the process of trying to prove or disprove my theory.

It really didn’t take her long to go from, “But their last name is Key, not Campbell.” to “My whole life I thought I was a Campbell, but I’m really a Key!”

I gently refocused her and suggested that while it was looking like that was true, we better spend some more time to be certain.

My sweet, elderly, cheerful friend was headed out of town for several weeks.  She would be back to work on everything some more.

And last Thursday was the day she showed back up at the center.

She was literally bursting with joy – just like me – as she told me that this is all she can talk about with every person she comes across.  She wanted to keep working.

So work we did.

I showed her my spreadsheet of her matches.  I showed her how I was working through some of the nitty-gritty.  We dug in and started researching and connecting more of her matches to this family.  We dug and read and compared and analyzed and updated and attached and discarded and worked and worked and worked.

We only found more connections and further proof that my theory was correct.

I wouldn’t say we are done.

But I also can’t offer you any other hypothesis.  So far, every match is easily connected to her mother’s side, or it’s connected to the possible grandparents I discovered.  Parents of a father whose life was cut short.  A father who was only around for her first six years of life.  A man for whom my friend has only one picture.

There is no third cluster to consider.

We have two clusters.

We have ONLY two clusters.

I think we are nearly there.

And that, my friends, is filling my entire heart and soul with joy.

 

 

Happy Monday, do you have a brick wall?  Have you tried using DNA to smash it?  I highly recommend that you do.

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas is Definitely Cuter with Children and Kittens

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I love this photo of my uncle!  This is another portrait taken by his grandmother, my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit.  I also display this photo during December.  The original was cut into this strange shape before it came to me.  It has a piece of cardboard attached at the back to serve as a stand.  You can see a bit of it peeking out from behind.  I spent a little time editing to make it appear as a full image once again.

Here is the original scan:

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Do you have any photos that could use a little editing love?  What programs have you tried?  I’m a PhotoShop purist.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you are enjoying the December festivities!

 

 


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Save the Date!

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I work one shift each week at my local Family History Center.  Every year, that center puts together a fantastic – and FREE – Family History Fair during the winter months.  We always draw a large crowd of people from our small town and the surrounding cities.  In fact, the last few years, we have filled the church almost to capacity.  This year I am teaching four classes.  It will be a busy day!

I know that most of my readers live far away from me and can’t possibly attend, but some of you live close by, so please, feel free to join us.  All are welcome.  The entire day is free and lunch is served.  It’s usually pizza, fresh veggies, cookies, and water.  Nothing too fancy, but it means you can stay all day without starving.  😉

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The classes I am teaching are the following:

DNA Basics – Have you wondered about using DNA in your research?  Come and learn about the different types of DNA tests, the different companies you can test with, what genealogy problems can be addressed with DNA, and a few examples of what DNA can do to knock down those brick walls.

Finding Hidden Records on FamilySearch – Did you know that FamilySearch has several different types of record collections? Come and learn how to find them all as we explore indexed collections with images, indexed collections with no images attached (but they might still be on FamilySearch), partially indexed collections with additional browse images, browse only collections, digitized microfilm found in the catalog that can be accessed from home, and digitized microfilm that can only be viewed at a Family History Center.

Making the Most of Ancestry.com – Come and learn how to supercharge your research on Ancestry.com by understanding the website and collections better and learning some fantastic smart search strategies that will help you find the records you are looking for more quickly.

Making the Most of Ancestry.com Trees – Why have a tree on Ancestry.com?  Is public or private better?  Learn how to create and use Ancestry.com Trees from scratch, by uploading a gedcom file, or by importing from FamilySearch.  Give your research a boost by adding the power of an Ancestry Tree.

I have been teaching the two Ancestry classes for a few years now, but they are a hit and draw a large crowd so I will just keep on teaching them as long as I am asked to do so.  😉  The DNA Basics class and the Finding Hidden Records on FamilySearch class are both new classes that I created this fall.  I LOVED teaching them and look forward to teaching them again.

Please feel free to join us and invite your friends!

 

Happy Tuesday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 

 

 

ps – We have had an unseasonably warm fall.  I think it was 60 degrees on Saturday.  FINALLY, it snowed on Sunday night.  My little fella has had his snow gear all gathered and ready for weeks now.  Well, not really his gear, a collection of items from the coat closet that he decided were the coolest.  😉  He was sooooo delighted to put it all on for school today.

 

pps – Su, in September I mentioned that we had snow on the mountains and everything was still in full bloom.  Here you go – three pictures taken on the same day, at about the same time, from about the same spot.  The mountain as seen from the front of my neighborhood, the flowers on my porch.  Utah weather is crazy!

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas Cuties

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Aren’t my aunt and uncle adorable?!

This is another 11×17″ portrait that I recently scanned.  It was taken in 1954 by my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit Duval.  I’ve been wondering if the star was crafted out of tin foil.  What do you think?

The last several Decembers this photo has been on display in my piano room.  Do you like to use vintage family photos as holiday decorations?

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you find a precious family photo to preserve and share today!

 

 


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A Little Preservation on the Fly

 

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Grandpa, my Hubby, and my two younger fellas.

 

When my husband was born he had 12 living grandparents.

TWELVE!

Twelve actual direct-line grandparents of varying degrees.  Two of those 12 were 2nd great-grandparents.  One born in 1887 and the other born in 1882.  If we want to count 2nd spouses after a grandparent being widowed, the number is even higher.

Well, now he is down to two.  Two grandparents.  One grandfather and one grandmother on different sides of his tree.

Over Thanksgiving, we were able to spend some time with that grandfather.  The morning we left, we stopped in to say goodbye to Grandpa.  There are several lovely photos on display in his home.  Photos that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

So, I followed my own advice.  I pulled out my phone, snapped some photos using the Google PhotoScan app and then sat down with Grandpa and labeled the photos right in the FamilySearch Memories app.  This photo could use a few touch-ups in Photoshop, but I got the details I need in a safe place that was fast and easy to use.  On the left, my scan, on the right, the tagged photo in the FS Memories app.

I captured seven photos and got some of the details behind those photos.  It only took about ten minutes.  A very well spent ten minutes.

But even better than getting a little preservation work done for my husband and children was the interest it sparked in my husband last night when I spent some time editing one of the photos.

The original looked liked this:

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It was a particularly difficult photo to scan because the glass on the frame is domed.  It’s a 5-generation photo with the baby being my mother-in-law.  It’s old and has been in that frame for a long time.  Not the kind of item I want to take out of the frame to scan with an app.  Too much risk of damage.  The only way to get a good scan was to have my husband hold the frame.  The fourth scan finally turned out fairly well.  But you will notice there is an area on the right at about shoulder height to grandpa that you can see the reflection of the dining room light fixture.  A little editing in photoshop cleaned that right up:

STEED, 5 generation photo

I also removed the distracting elements, also known as my hubby’s hands.  😉

Well, after editing, I uploaded the photo to FamilySearch and was tagging everyone.  My husband walked by, noticed what I was doing, and then suddenly – there he was, sitting on the couch next to me learning about his family.

Those ten minutes of preservation at Grandpa’s house turned into so much more than just snapping a few photos.  My husband has actual questions about some of his ancestors.  Questions he wants answers to.

I’ll tell you what – that is a first around here!

 

 

Have you tried the Google PhotoScan app?  What about the FamilySearch Memories app?

 

Happy Tuesday, I hope you preserve a special memory today!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: The First Image From A Precious Collection

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This beautiful family portrait was given to me by my Grandma several years ago.  It is an 11×17″ photo of my Grandma, my mother, and my mother’s siblings.  My darling Mom is wearing the blue striped dress.

This portrait was one of many in a large Kodak envelope.  All of the photos were taken by my Great-Grandmother Estelle Duval at her studio – Duval Portraits in Spokane, Washington.  Most of the photos in this envelope were hand colored with oil paints by Grandma Duval.  She was remarkably talented.

For the past several years – maybe 7 or so – these photos have been patiently waiting for some attention.  Well, two weeks ago when I scanned the Telesphore Brouillette book, I also scanned all 28 of the 11×17″ portraits.

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It felt pretty fantastic to finally get these treasures scanned.  I just needed some time and access to a large, high-quality flat-bed scanner.  Thank you, BYU for helping me out!

The only bummer, and it is a very slight bummer, is that many of these precious photos were printed on textured paper.  The scans exaggerate the texture and the photos come out much darker than they really are.  Here is the original scan:

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And here it is lightened up a bit:

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And here it is with a little bit of sharpening:

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And then finally, with some more sharpening and another layer of lightening:

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Which version appeals most to you?

 

I am sooooo happy to have finally scanned these treasures!

 

 

Happy Thursday, I will be enjoying lots of family time next week for Thanksgiving.  I’ll be taking the week off.  If you are also celebrating Thanksgiving, may I suggest that you spend some time preserving memories?  The FamilySearch Memories app is free and a fantastic way to record audio.  It can record segments up to 15-minutes in length.  Get your family talking about their favorite memories of loved ones now gone and record those gems.  Have the Google PhotoScan app ready to go so you can scan any photos that catch your eye.  Remember, the app isn’t nearly as good as a scanner, but sometimes, it’s the only thing you’ve got.  I hope you have a blessed and thankful week!  I am thankful for each of you who make my genealogy experience so much richer.  xoxo