thegenealogygirl


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Photograph Showcase: Grandma and Her Fancy Dress

ELLIS, Mary Margaret, wearing black sequined dress in snow - smaller

This photo of my Grandma, Mary Margaret Ellis, comes from a bundle of negatives found in her collection.   She has an engagement ring on, so I am guessing this was taken sometime while my Grandpa was on his LDS mission in New Zealand.  I need to do a little digging to nail down those dates.

I love the details of her dress.  She made most of her own dresses.  I wonder if she made this one too?  It’s a little bit fancy, I wonder what it was for?  They got married in June so I don’t think it was for any wedding festivities.

 


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Photograph Showcase: Ronald Peterson, age 31

PETERSON, Ronald, 31 years old portrait

This is my Grandpa, Ronald Skeen Peterson, in 1957 at the age of 31.

Two years later he was hired by Utah State University as a counselor.  He would very shortly be made head of the department.  He taught abnormal psychology while running the counseling and testing department for the remainder of his years at USU.

Prior to his hire by USU, he worked as a counselor at the University of Oregon where he completed his PhD work in psychology.

I wonder if this lovely portrait was taken for the University of Oregon or on the occasion of his graduation?  I need to nail down the dates of a few things and I might be able to make a more accurate guess.

Either way – it’s a beautiful photo.  It has a rather large orangish-brown stain across his forehead and off to the side.  It cleaned up nicely in photoshop.  Ahhhhh photoshop, a photo preservers best friend.  😉

 

 


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Major Milestone Right Here!

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Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉

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These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!

 

 


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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.  😉

 

 


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My 7-second, $450 Miracle

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John Costello, front and center, looking away and pointing.

John Costello is my great grandfather.

 

My Mom knew him.

He died when she was about 11.

But more importantly, his three children that survived infancy were all still alive until November of 2015 when Uncle Dan died.

I have been grilling them for years.  (Nicely)

But…

John Costello is my brick wall.

 

My most recent, most tantalizing, most consuming, most stubborn, solid brick wall.

My collection of tid-bits about him is so small.  And so precious.  Every little bit I add to my John Costello treasury is cause for celebration.  I have exactly 5 pictures of him.  That one up there, plus another shot from this same sitting.  And these:

 

Young and Costello males

L-R: Andrew Young, George Vickers Young, ?, James Young, Alexander “Sandy” Young, John Costello, the two little boys are Vince and Dan.

Young and Costellos

L-R: John Costello, Mary Brown Young, Andrew Young, Catherine Brown, James Young, Alexander “Sandy” Young, George Vickers Young, front: Virginia, Dan, and Vince Costello.

Mary and John Costello

from the back of the photo: Mary and John Costello, Mistrey Castle Phoenix, Arizona, Jan 1965

 

Over Christmas my Mom was in a “I-want-to-get-stuff-outta-my-house” mood.  Among other things, she sent me home with this super-cool-clear-vinyl-60s-mod-flowers-decorated bag filled with old film reels.  She said, “I think it’s mostly dive videos of my Mom, but there may be some other stuff from when I was a kid.”  Intriguing.

(My Grandma was a rescue diver, hence the “dive stuff” comment.)

 

What hidden gems might there be in this magical bag from the 60s?

 

At RootsTech I entered the Larsen Digital drawing and picked up one of their coupons.  After RootsTech I got an email from Larsen Digital to let me know I had won $50 toward their services.  A few weeks later, two days before my RootsTech coupon was set to expire, I was headed in the direction of the closest Larsen Digital drop-off location.  I hadn’t yet figured anything out about the film reels – which had dive stuff and which had childhood stuff – so I just took a deep breath and dropped it all off so that I could take advantage of my coupon and my $50.

The next day I got a call to confirm my order – my nearly $600 order.

Gulp.

 

The one consolation was that they hadn’t yet applied my coupon or my $50 prize.

So, $450 and one month later, I picked up my film reels.

But I was packing to go spend some time with my Dad, so I just threw the thumb-drive in my backpack without watching anything and off I went to good old Kennewick, Washington.

I forgot all about that thumb-drive until my Mom arrived back home from a little trip she had taken.  We had one day together before I headed back home.  During that one day we were both taking care of a few things – she was unpacking, I was packing, laundry, etc.

Sometime in the early afternoon, I passed my backpack and remembered the thumb-drive.  I pulled it out and said, “Mom, let’s see what was on those old film reels.”  We sat at the kitchen table and started watching together.

About 13 minutes, and two video files in, we came across something that absolutely took my breath away.

There was John Costello.

 

Alive, in color, and showing me a 7-second glimpse into his personality.

As soon as his face appeared on screen, both my Mom and I said, “Oh.  {in gentle wonder}  There’s Grandpa Costello.”  After his precious 7-seconds, his wife Mary appears and then my sweet, infant Mom is passed to her Grandma Mary by someone off camera.

That 22-second family moment, immortalized on an old film reel, felt like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a priceless gift, a miracle.

A good friend taught me how to cut that little clip out of the longer video.

I think I have watched this 22-second video 100 times since last Thursday.  Especially the first 7 seconds.

How is it that those 7 precious seconds have told me more about John Costello the man, than the last 19 years of searching, pouring over records, and asking questions of his children and grandchildren?

I can’t explain it.

But those 7 incredible seconds were worth every single penny of the $450 I spent.

Every.  Single.  Penny.

 

And so my dear readers, I present to you, John & Mary Costello, in all of their color-filled glory.

 

 

My cup runneth over.

 

 

ps – There were 14 film reels in all.  The movies are positively filled with other treasures.  What a joy to have, and what a joy to share with my family.

 


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FamilySearch Book Scanning Service

Title Page - FWE Book

Title Page for a Family Record Book kept by my 2nd great grandfather Frederick William Ellis.

Among the many cool things in the boxes that belonged to my grandmother was a Family Record Book that her grandfather had kept.  It has a bunch of information that I already knew but it was handwritten by my 2nd great grandfather.  Such a treasure!  And while I say that it is information that I already knew, I think the important thing here is that he actually knew many of these people personally so his record will contain hidden gems that may help answer questions.

Like most of my genealogy adventures, I try to digitize and share what I find in a way that is useful for my family members.  Only one person can physically possess this book at a time but I certainly don’t want it’s existence to only benefit me.

That’s where FamilySearch comes in to help me out.  They offer a free book scanning service during RootsTech.  So I took my book along to RootsTech and had it scanned for free.  That book is now digitized and available on FamilySearch under the “Search” tab in the “Books” collection.  You can find it here.

If you have a book that is not under copyright, or a book that you own the copyright to, or a book that is under copyright but you get signed permission from the copyright holder, you can take that book to RootsTech and have it scanned.  A very cool service.

Additionally, FamilySearch will accept donations of items like journals, family Bibles, compiled histories and so on.  You can stipulate in your donation that they must scan the item and make it publicly available and they will!  The item will then be stored appropriately and can be viewed in person by family members at the Church Archives building.  This is a great option if you have an old item that is in danger of deterioration or if you have special family items and no one to care for them after you pass.  They have different storage methods including very cold storage that they use to help preserve really old items.  In fact, if your item is stored in one of these cold storage areas you have to make an appointment to view your item well in advance so they can slowly bring it to room temperature for your viewing.

I am so grateful for the many free services FamilySearch offers that help me to make my genealogy work available to my family members in a free and easily searchable way.  This book is a treasure and now it can be treasured in every household that descends from Frederick William Ellis and not just in my home.

Here is one last image from the book.  It’s the family group sheet for Frederick and his wife Susan, written in his own hand.

FWE & SKD family group sheet

 

Happy Wednesday.  I hope you make an amazing genealogy discovery today!

 

Note:  I could only find the information for donating items that are relevant to LDS church history.  I know that FamilySearch accepts donations of other items and stores them properly and digitizes them, I just couldn’t find the appropriate link in the time I have…  I’m off to pick up a preschooler.  If you are interested in this info let me know and I will track it down.