thegenealogygirl


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Photograph Showcase: Introducing John Baptiste Jerrain

John Baptiste Jerrain and Willow Jeane

John Baptiste Jerrain & Willow Jeane

Many years ago, my Grandma’s Maffit cousins decided to put together a book about their family.  It was quite an extensive effort.  Emails and phone calls went back and forth across the US as cousins tried to identify family members in old photo albums, recall family stories, and put the best information together that they could.  Somehow, I didn’t end up with a copy of that book.

Weird, right?

Well, ever since I found out about it – too late to get a copy – I have been trying to get my hands on the CD of photos that was created at the time the book was finished.  It has not been a fruitful effort.

But then.

Several weeks ago, I was at my parent’s home to help my mom for a few days.  She mentioned that the plastic tub sitting on the guest bed was some family history “stuff” from Grandma’s house that I may want to look through.  It sat for a few days before I got to it.  There were plenty of interesting items.  Partway through the collection, I came across a CD that was marked “SAVE” in big black sharpie.

At this point, I must interrupt myself to share with you, dear reader, that my Grandma was notorious for throwing away family treasures.  I will not subject you to the pains of rattling off a list of the items I know she tossed, or my speculation on what else may have been cast aside.  Except I can’t help myself.  Here is one small example – she had about 13 large tintypes that were not labeled.  She showed them to me and said she would be scanning them.  Somehow they ended up in the trash and if she ever scanned them, I don’t know where the scans ended up.  Her reasoning?  They weren’t labeled anyway.  Sigh.

So there I was, sitting on the guest bed, looking at a CD that Grandma had loudly labeled “SAVE” and hoping it was the CD of precious images from the Maffit family book.  I hopefully and joyfully added it to my already bursting suitcase.

Later that day, I mentioned to my Mom that I thought I had found a CD I had been hoping to get my hands on for years.  She tried to tell me I couldn’t take it.  Oh boy!  She hadn’t even looked in the tub, but when she thought there was something good, she wanted to hang onto it.  I just told her nope, I was taking it.  And I would share.  She couldn’t really argue.  Haha.

Finally last week I had a minute to download the photos from the CD.  It absolutely was what I thought it was!  Hooray!!

 

And so, I would like to introduce you to my 3rd great-grandfather, John Baptiste Jerrain.  Doesn’t he look dapper in his bowtie?

 

{Insert major genealogy happy dance here!!  🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉}

 

The photo is labeled with two names, John Baptiste Jerrain & Willow Jeane.  The person who shared the photo was my Grandma’s 1st cousin, Willow Jeane, great-granddaughter of Grandpa Jerrain.  That Willow Jeane was born 6 years after Grandpa Jerrain died.  However, he had another granddaughter named Willow Jeane who was born in 1904, 26 years before Grandpa Jerrain passed.  He also had another great-granddaughter named Willow Jeane who was born in 1929, 1 year before his death.  Based on the age of the child, I would imagine that IF this child is Willow Jeane, she is Willow Jeane Jerrain, born in 1904, daughter of Prudent Arthur Jerrain & Jessie Campbell Shirky.

What a treasure.

There are so many wonderful photos on the CD.  I am delighted!

 

But there is one more thing.  I almost hate to mention it.  But here goes.

 

The photos were scanned using what was likely the best scanning technology at the time.  Quite a long time ago.  Most of the photos are very, very small digital files.  Like very, very, very small.  This is one of the largest ones, by at least triple.  So if you are one of my Maffit cousins who happens to have any of the old originals of the family photos, how about scanning them again?  Or mailing them to this cousin to promptly scan and mail back to you?  I promise to share my scans.  🙂

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope a long sought for family treasure makes its way to you very, very soon!    xoxo

 

 

ps – Monday is not my normal day for a Photograph Showcase post, I have several other posts that are in varying stages of completion that were intended for today.  But I was so distracted by the joys of seeing my 3rd great-grandfather that I just had to share – TODAY!

 

 


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A Cautionary Tale of Digital Loss

 

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Daniel Ramon Costello & Barbara Ann Deno Costello, my granduncle & grandaunt at their home in Spokane, Washington.

 

 

I am sick.

Heartsick.

Like, really, really heartsick.

Almost four years ago I went on a trip to Spokane, Washington to visit my Grandma and interview her.  I saw, and also interviewed, other family members including my Uncle Dan & Aunt Barbara, and my fabulous Auntie V.  It was a fantastic trip.  My sister and Mom drove up to be there too.  I had brought along a digital audio recorder to capture all of the conversations.

Grandma told me stories I had never heard.  She talked about being a single mom in the 60s.  She described being a rescue diver for years and the moment she decided she couldn’t do it anymore.  She answered questions about family members who she knew, but my Mom and I did not.  She described people and places.  She went over photos with me identifying people and adding details about those people and the events in the photos.  She talked about how hard it was when her father went to prison for a year.  We talked and talked and talked.  I captured it all on my little digital audio recorder.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Barbara told me about John Costello and Mary Brown Young, my great grandparents.  I knew Mary, but John died when my mother was a child.  They shared how sorry they were in later years that they hadn’t asked Grandpa Costello more questions about his family in Spain before he passed.  Uncle Dan talked about his time in the service during WWII.  Aunt Barbara started to tell us about how sad my biological grandfather was when he and my Grandma divorced before my Mom and aunt cut her off.

My Auntie V shared some insights, when we were alone, about various family members from the past.  Her “unvarnished truth” to balance what Grandma had shared.

My Grandpa told me detailed stories from Viet Nam that are so fascinating.  I’ll leave it at that since he is still living.

All of these gems and much more were recorded on my handy little digital audio recorder.

I returned home from my trip and was immediately swept back up in daily life with my children who were 16, 13, and 2.  I was able to process some new data and information, but my trusty little audio recorder didn’t make the cut.

More than a year passed and one of my uncles from my dad’s side of the family needed to borrow my audio recorder for a family reunion I wasn’t able to attend.  I wrote up a short list of instructions and stood holding that recorder, struggling with whether or not to leave the micro sd card inside.  It has an internal memory that was more than sufficient, but what if the contents on the sd card were somehow erased?  After going back and forth I popped that oh-so-tiny micro sd card out and set it on my dresser.

I think.

Here is the moment in the book where you want to scream at the character, “No!  Don’t do it!!”

The recorder was used by my uncle at that reunion and then returned and placed on top of my dresser.

I think.

This week I am going back up to Spokane to help with an archiving project, among other things.  I will see Aunt Barbara, my Mom, Auntie V, and Grandpa.  Grandma and Uncle Dan have both passed away.

I need to be able to record and I debated – do I use my digital audio recorder or do I use my phone?

I pulled out that recorder and thought I had better pull the audio files off of it.  I plugged it into my computer and searched the files.

There were five.

Four nonsense practice files that last just a few seconds and a 33-minute file from the reunion.

That is all.

I must have checked the micro sd card slot at least 15 times hoping for something to appear that simply wasn’t there.  I even used a flashlight just to be certain.  I went through the folders on the internal memory over and over hoping to find something more but coming up empty every single time.

Panic set in.

I started tearing apart every place in my house I could imagine myself considering “a safe place” for that teeny-tiny-little micro sd card.  (Carefully, of course, but definitely fervently.)  All the while I was racking my brain and praying for a memory to pop to the surface.  Did I really just set that invaluable sd card on my dresser?  That miniscule, but more precious than gold, fragile tiny card on the edge of a dresser?!

That seems like a terrible decision.  And the thing is, I don’t know for sure what I did.  I just know that there is not a micro sd card inside of that digital audio recorder.

So far I have found one micro sd card – but not the one I need – but seriously, where did that come from? – and one regular sd card.  What is happening here?  Why aren’t these properly stored?  Why is my organizational system falling apart?!  What on earth?

Why didn’t I transfer those files immediately after my trip?!

Why didn’t I transfer those files while I was still on my trip?!!!!!  I had my laptop with me.

And this is the point where I could ramble on and on about my laptop being super full and being a busy mom with big and tiny children and being the Relief Society President in my ward and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You know that moment I mentioned, the one where we all want to scream at the character, “No!!  Don’t do it!!”?  Well, I didn’t listen.  If I could have even had a tiny glimpse of my present anguish, I would have moved mountains to get those files transferred to AT LEAST two other places.

But I didn’t.

And now I am heartsick.

So terribly heartsick.

Real tears have been shed several times now as I continue to search and continue to come up with nothing.

 

There are two very small glimmers of hope.

One, my Mom interviewed my Grandma about 2 years ago and still has that recording – that I will immediately move heaven and earth to transfer to AT LEAST two places the minute it gets into my hot little hand.  There are two major disappointments with this – one, I love you Mom, but I ask better questions 😳 – and two, my Mom says it’s all fiction.  But let’s be real, would I know the difference?  And is my Mom’s opinion of Grandma’s stories accurate or fair?  I don’t know.

Two, I just might still find that micro sd card.  I believe in miracles.  I’ve experienced miracles plenty of times.  I don’t know if I actually need a miracle this time or just more time searching, but I’ll take that treasure anyway it comes to me.  So I’ll hold out hope that somehow, someway, those hours of audio files will make their way back to me.  And no matter the path it takes, I will consider it a miracle.  But I have learned a VERY BIG lesson.

NO MATTER HOW BUSY I AM, THERE ARE SOME TASKS THAT NEED TO BE DONE IMMEDIATELY.

Good preservation requires having multiple copies in multiple places.  So guess what I will be doing over the next month?  Assessing and addressing my current level of preservation of family photos, home movies, and priceless papers and artifacts.

 

But I still really, really, really want to have that oh-so-precious and oh-so-tiny micro sd card back.  Please.

 

I’ll take any good vibes, happy successful treasure hunting thoughts, or prayers you want to send my way.  I could definitely use them.

 

And friends, I hope you will learn from my mistake and avoid a similar bout of sorrow and loss.  What do you need to digitize, duplicate, or store in another place today?  Don’t wait.  Please, don’t wait.

Good luck.

xoxo

 


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Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection

Utah_St__Livestock_Assn___Booth__John_E___Schramm__Clemm__Peterson__Rulon_P___Shot_4

Yesterday, while reading a post from the NGS blog, I noticed a link to a Utah photo collection that is new to me.  It’s the Salt Lake Tribune Negative Collection.  I clicked on over to check it out and discovered this cool photo of my great grandfather.

This photo was taken 1 February 1957.  These fellas were somehow connected to the Utah State Livestock Association.  My great grandpa, Rulon Powell Peterson, is on the right, holding his hat and wearing glasses.  He was a very successful cattle rancher.  The other two men are named as John E Booth and Clemm Schramm, but I don’t know which one is which.

I did a little perusing of the collection and didn’t find anything else related to my family.  The collection is hosted by Utah State History.  They have a few other collections.  If you have any Utah family, you may want to check it out.

And once again, I am so thankful that I quickly read a post listing various online collections.  You just never know what you might find in some obscure online collection.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a surprisingly delightful genealogy discovery today!

 


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Don’t Lose Track of Your Digital Records – Give Them Distinctive Names

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Our world is becoming increasingly filled with digital files.  Documents, photos, videos, receipts, and so on – all digital.  For genealogists, it’s even worse.  We INTENTIONALLY look for as many documents as we can find about our family members.  Our file collections are massive.

Back in the good old days we had vast paper filing systems.  Some of us used binders, some file boxes or cabinets, and most of us used both.  Even diligent genealogists who have collections of paper files struggle to convert all of those files to digital formats.  It all takes time.  And time is precious.

Amy Johnson Crow recently published a post that includes an interview with Drew Smith.  They tackle the very important topic of organizing digital files.  The interview is a brief 7:43, but worth your time.

As I watched, I felt pretty good about my own system for naming files.  It is right inline with the things Drew talked about.  So I thought I would share my simple digital file naming system.  It looks a little something like this:

SURNAME, Forename Middle-name, YEAR Event Name

 

Pretty straightforward.  And so far, no two filenames have been identical in my digital files.  Let’s look at three examples.

SMELLIE, Agnes, 1909 Death Record

This is a Scottish death record.  There are three entries on the page.  The entry for my family member is the first entry on line 16 for Agnes Montgomery.  Agnes’ maiden name is Smellie, I always use the maiden surname, so my file name looks like this:

SMELLIE, Agnes, 1909 Death Record

 

HYDE, Muriel Grace and Walter E Groome, 1924 Marriage Certificate

This marriage record is for Muriel Grace Hyde and Walter E Groome.  Muriel is my blood relative so she takes the first place in my file name.  I only capitalize the surname of the person who is a blood relative.  So my filename looks like this:

HYDE, Muriel Grace and Walter E Groome, 1924 Marriage Certificate

 

Every now and again I am related to both parties in a marriage like in this example:

PROULX, Joseph and DEMERS, Anne Marie, 1919 Marriage Record, page 1PROULX, Joseph and DEMERS, Anne Marie, 1919 Marriage Record, page 2

This record is in French and split over two pages.  On the first page, the marriage entry begins on the bottom right and continues onto the next page.  Joseph Proulx is my 1st cousin 3 times removed and his wife Anne Marie Demers is my 2nd cousin 3 times removed and my 1st cousin 3 times removed.  I am related to both Anne Marie’s mother and father.  {And if you are wondering, Joseph and Anne Marie are second cousins to each other.}  Because I am related to both Joseph and Anne Marie, my two filenames look like this:

PROULX, Joseph and DEMERS, Anne Marie, 1919 Marriage Record, page 1

PROULX, Joseph and DEMERS, Anne Marie, 1919 Marriage Record, page 2

 

Using this file naming system works well for me.  I can easily find a file I am looking for just by typing in the surname.  If it’s a surname that is common to my tree, I type the surname, then a comma, then begin typing the forename until I see the file I need.

I may have a great file naming system that works for me, but organizing those files is another matter.  I haven’t had the need for folders so I haven’t created any.  They all go into one large “Genealogy Record Images” folder on my computer and external hard drive.  My back up is that I upload every file to my private ancestry tree and attach it to the correct individuals.  In the description section I add citation details so that I can retrace my steps if I need to.  I also upload images to FamilySearch as a secondary back up.  Well, I guess it’s more like a fourth back up.  😉

 

Do you have a file naming system that works for you?

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Happy Wednesday, I hope you make a fantastic, genealogy discovery today!  Then, give it a great file name that works for you.  😉