thegenealogygirl


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A Special Christmas Gift & the Lesson FamilySearch Taught Me

A Special Christmas Gift

Every year for Christmas I try to give my parents and siblings a meaningful family history gift.  Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it’s not.  What it always is, is a work of the heart.

This past Christmas, the gift was fairly simple, but definitely meaningful.  And because it was created based on a family treasure found in my grandmother’s archives, I gave this particular gift to my children, my parents and siblings, my uncles and cousins, and my grandmother’s only living sibling.

So what was this special token of our shared heritage?

A slim, 23 page book.

The first 15 pages were a carefully scanned copy of a handwritten personal history recorded by my 2nd great grandmother Susan Kaziah Davis.

Susan is my Grandma’s Grandma.  Susan was born in 1850 in Bath, Somerset, England to Edward George Davis and Sarah Esther Mudd.  Edward and Sarah had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1849.  They continued to live in England for several years.  After Edward’s death in 1863, Sarah and the children worked hard to earn enough money for passage to America and the journey to Utah.  They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on the 3rd of September, 1868, having travelled by wagon train.  This makes Sarah, Susan, and the other children Mormon Pioneers.

At the age of 65, Susan wrote a 15 page personal history.  Later, Susan and her son Claude, my great grandfather, used this handwritten history to write a more complete history of Susan’s life.

The original 15 pages are handwritten by Susan in her beautiful penmanship.  I have that original handwritten history and wanted my whole family to be able to enjoy it.

I used a local printshop that I trust to create the scan.  They scanned it in black and white and printed it on a creamy colored cardstock that was similar to the color of the original paper.  I created 8 additional pages that were added after the history.  The print shop printed them up and bound them with a small spiral binding at the top.  Here is one of the books.

Susan Kaziah Davis book

I tried to keep it almost as simple as I found it.  I added my extra pages after Susan’s own writing.  I wanted my family to be able to discover her life from her own writing, just like I had, when I found this treasure.

In the 8 additional pages, I included a letter from me, a few photos of Susan (reprints of scans), a photo of Susan’s mother Sarah, a lovely family group sheet for Susan, her husband and children, and one for Sarah, Edward and their children.  I also created a relationship chart so that each recipient would know how they are related to Susan.  Here are the 8 pages, in the order found in the book, with names of living people edited out except for mine.

I was very happy with this small gift I was able to share with my family.

The next step for me was a more permanent preservation effort for the handwritten history.

I instantly thought of the free FamilySearch book scanning service at RootsTech.  I had used this service at RootsTech in 2016 and was very happy with the quality of the scan.  The item I scanned that year was a Family Record book kept by Susan’s husband Frederick William Ellis.  Here are two sample pages from that scan:

The book can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog here.  The actual images of the book can be found here.

The scans turned out great!  I was very pleased and thought this was a great way to preserve something for my extended family with little work on my part.  The book is 86 pages long and while I certainly could have scanned them, this saved me lots of time.

Because of my previous experience with the FamilySearch Book Scanning service at RootsTech, I decided Susan’s handwritten history would be one of two books I had scanned at RootsTech 2017.

When I picked up my precious manuscript from the book scanning booth I very nearly walked over to a different booth that accepts donations of family items about early Mormon Pioneers.  I almost donated this small history so it could be preserved and available for all of Susan’s descendants to view in person at the Church History Library.  I had already recreated a physical copy for my family.  I had already had a nice scan created by FamilySearch.  Donating it would ensure it’s preservation.  But some nagging feeling caused me to keep on walking.

After I returned home from RootsTech, I checked for my book to show up in the catalog several times.  Eventually I quit checking and forgot about it until last week when I checked again.  I was very puzzled when I couldn’t find it.  I tried a bunch of tricks and I just wasn’t tracking it down.  So I got extra creative and finally – there it was.  The catalog name isn’t the best – A Brief sketch of the Life & Happenings of Susean (Susan) K. Ellis.  The catalog entry can be found here.  And the images of the scans can be found here.

Here is the first page from that scan:

FS scan of SKD history

I was sooooo disappointed in this scan!  They scanned it in black and white.  And at a low resolution.

Can I just say how glad I am that I did not donate Susan’s precious manuscript?!

After discovering this huge disappointment, I decided to scan the small treasure myself last week.  I used a flatbed scanner and scanned each page at a very high resolution and saved them as a .tiff file.

Here is the first page at about one fourth the size of my scan and saved as a .jpeg.  It looks so much better than the FS scan!

SKD history page 1

So what is the lesson?

 

I don’t know why I experienced such drastic quality differences with the FamilySearch Book Scanning service, but I did.  In the future, I will not waste my time having them scan something so small.  And I will definitely NEVER assume their scan has me covered and donate an item before making sure the scan is the quality I expect.

FamilySearch has earned my trust time and again.  I almost let that well deserved trust cause me to donate an item before it had been properly scanned.  I would have been heartbroken at my unnecessary loss.

I still trust FamilySearch and love their generous, inclusive, and vast efforts to help all people learn about their family’s history.

But I have now learned that my trust has a very important limit.  Everything I consider donating will be properly scanned and saved to various locations before I even talk about making that donation.

 

 

Have you ever used the FamilySearch Book Scanning service?  If so, what was your experience like?

 

Do you like to give family history gifts to your family?  If so, what types of gifts have you given?

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you are able to properly preserve and share a family treasure very soon!

 

 

ps – I will post my scans and a transcription of Susan’s history in an upcoming post for my extended family to find and enjoy.

 


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Piles and Piles of Letters – JOY!

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Just a small portion of the letters.

In early December I was given all of the boxes of photos, journals, albums, letters, and memorabilia that had been kept by my Grandmother.  It was a joyous day and the joy has just kept spreading itself all over my genealogy loving heart these many months.

I was given the boxes, in part, because I was looking for a handful of specific photos to complete my family Christmas gift.  I was in a hurry and quickly went through every single box gathering what I needed.  It was almost painful to be in such a hurry.  There were soooooooo many unbelievable treasures in those boxes and I wasn’t able to soak much in.  I had a deadline.  As I was digging I found a shoe-box of letters.  I gave them a cursory look and thought, “Awesome, Grandma and Grandpa’s letters from WWII and their missions.  I can’t wait to go through these later.”

Well, in early Spring I pulled that box out and was devastated when I realized that it contained letters from my Grandpa’s friends and extended family.  Don’t get me wrong.  I knew they were special too.  But I know that my Grandparents wrote to each other for 5 years and that my Grandma kept all of those letters.  Where were they?

I was stressed.  I wondered if a box had gotten lost or if someone had pulled out the letters thinking they would do something with them.  I asked my uncles.  No one knew anything.  I decided before I completely panicked I needed to comb through all of the boxes again.  Much more carefully.  Just in case.

So last week I started going through the boxes again.  I found and rediscovered so many cool things.  Several boxes in, I found a binder filled with letters.  But they were from the 1960s while my Grandpa was getting his doctorate.  A cool find to be sure, and something I was hoping hadn’t been lost, but still not the letters I was searching for.

As I worked my way through every box, I got down near the end and pulled a box onto my bed and was completely baffled about the fact that it was taped shut.  What on earth?!  Somehow I had totally missed one box.  My heart started to pound.  I noticed a note on the side that said letters.  Could it be?

I opened the box and started shouting for joy!  Total and complete joy.  I was staring at 4 shoe-boxes FILLED with letters.  Plus several bundles that weren’t in shoe-boxes.  There are hundreds and hundreds of letters.

Sweet relief!

I am a bit embarrassed that the letters had been in my bedroom for a few months and all that time I had been worrying about them being lost forever.  Oh boy.

Once they were discovered, I started organizing.  It wasn’t hard because my Grandma had already bundled them by months.  I just had to get the months in order.

Next I started filing the letters in my new Hollinger boxes and folders.  I filed away until I ran out of paper folder inserts.  I need to order more.  Lots more.  It’s going to get expensive.  I wonder if my family members would want to chip in…?  I’m going to need so many before I am finished.  But I digress.

The letters cover a 5 year time period beginning when my Grandpa went off to basic training for the Marine Corps.  They follow his service in the Marine Corps and then cover the time while he was serving an LDS mission in New Zealand.  During his mission my Grandma also served a mission in California.  There is also an entire shoe-box of letters from my great-grandmother Naomi to my Grandpa.  I was so surprised and delighted by that discovery.  She left no journal, no personal history, and she died very young.  I feel like I’ve been given such a gift.

I plan to digitize the letters and share them with my family.  I may post them here, I need to ask my uncles how they feel about that.  Once everything is digitized, I will publish a book for my family members.  Well, maybe more than one.  It’s A LOT of letters and may need to be broken up.

Here are my questions:

1 – Should I include all of the letters in one collection chronologically?  Or, should I separate them and have one collection of letters between my grandparents, one collection of letters from my great-grandparents and one collection from extended family and friends?

2 – If I separate the collections for the purposes of the books I will compile, should I still share the letters online in one collection?

3 – Do you have any tips for dealing with a collection of letters this large?

 

I can’t wait to get started!  Happy Monday.

 

 


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Learning From My Cousin’s Loss – A Story About Archiving

Flickr couleur

Flickr app icon

My cousin Bobbi is currently on a cross country trip visiting various cousins and significant family sites.  It’s a true genealogy lover’s dream trip.  I’ve been enjoying her brief updates on Facebook with a few photos and little stories of her adventures.  But last week, while still on her trip, Bobbi shut her iPhone in her car door.  Broken phone.  Lost photos.

Oh the heartbreak!

I read her post and thought of the many times I’ve heard people say that their phone crashed, was dropped in water, or broke and they hadn’t downloaded their photos and videos in X amount of time.  Those stories are almost always followed by the inevitable lamenting of lost memories.  My sister recently lost a months worth and that month included her son’s 8th birthday.

Every time I hear something like that my heart stops.  I am TERRIBLE about downloading the photos and videos from my phone.  I know you can use iCloud, and I have in the past, but my phone is so full that I have to pay $5/month to use it.

Well, in Bobbi’s post about her phone breaking, someone left a comment and told her that she should use the Flickr app on her phone.  They explained that you can turn on a setting to automatically download every photo you take.

What?!

Why, oh why, didn’t I know this before?

I added the app immediately and my phone has been chugging away for days.  Every photo – all 2.9K of them – have uploaded to my Flickr account and now it’s working through the videos.  The videos take A LOT longer than the photos.

I already had a Flickr account and I love it for so many reasons but now I have an app on my phone (and on my husband’s phone) that is doing the work for me and making sure my precious memories aren’t lost.

And… Flickr is completely free!

If you decide to give it a try here are a few tips.  Once you have the app on your phone and have an account set up, click the settings icon in the upper right of the app.

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Then click on Auto-Uploadr

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Then turn on the Auto-Upload photos option.  That’s it!  Now all of your photos will start uploading and will be stored in a folder called “Auto Upload”.  All photos that upload through this auto feature are automatically marked as private and will only be visible to you unless you choose to change the setting.

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If you happen to have a preschooler who likes to take 50+ pictures in a row of absolutely nothing, you will be lucky enough to see whole sections in your new folder that look like this.

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And this.

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And this.  Isn’t it fabulous?  In all seriousness, I love that he enjoys taking photos.  I should probably clean them out of my phone occasionally.  Now, I will have to clean them out of my phone and my Flickr account.  Maybe not all of them though…

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While the videos are waiting to load they look like this.  Once they have uploaded they show a video icon with the length of the video.  I will mention that once they show up it still takes a little while before they will play the entire video.  The first few that popped up didn’t play properly for several hours.  I was getting nervous but I checked again and they work great now.

If you are a bit lazy about your archiving like I am, the Flickr app may be perfect for you!  I am loving it.

By the way – did you know that most TV devices, like the Roku and Apple TV, have a Flickr app that allows you to view your photos and videos right on your TV?  We have that and every now and again we will look through pictures as a family.  Pretty awesome technology!

 

Happy Monday.  I hope you make a fabulous genealogy discovery today!

 


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Photograph Showcase: Blanche as a Young Girl

HUBAND, Blanche Octavia, young girl

Blanche Octavia Huband

This lovely photo is my great grandmother Blanche Octavia Huband.  It comes from an album page created by her daughter, my grandmother, Mary Margaret Ellis.  Blanche looks like such an interesting little girl – confident but a touch reserved.  She is definitely a beauty.

As I was editing this photo I considered a few questions for myself:

  1.   When should I edit a photo and when should I leave it as is?
  2.   Do I spend too much time editing too many photos of each person?
  3.   Will photo editing improve so significantly in the future that it would be better to wait to edit?

I don’t know the answers.  Just some questions kicking around in my brain.  Here is the original.  What do you think?

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How to Preserve Family Photos

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My Grandma’s boxes that I received late last year.   I also have boxes from my other grandparents.  So many boxes and so many wonderful photos.

Over the past few months I have been gathering bits and pieces of information about proper methods of archiving photos.  I have literally thousands and thousands of old family photos sitting in these and many other boxes.  There are so many of them that my efforts to digitize them have stalled a bit.  I want to be very organized about the entire process from start to finish for each photograph.  Because I haven’t quite settled on a plan for the end – the storage and organization methods – I have really slowed my digitizing.

I just watched something that may help me get my groove back.

Amy Johnson Crow shared an interview on her blog this week.  She interviewed Denise Levenick about the very thing I have been so concerned about – How to Preserve Family Photos.  Ironically, I have been trying to decide which of two books to order written by Denise about this topic.  Amy’s blog post helped me settle on which book I think will help me make my plan and gave me several great tips to start wrapping my mind around now.

If properly organizing, storing, and archiving family photos has been on your mind too, you may want to check out Amy’s blog post and get a little inspiration.

 

Happy Wednesday – I hope you make an amazing family discovery today!