thegenealogygirl


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Advice Please ❤️

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I have finished filing thousands of precious letters between my grandparents, as well as letters from my great grandparents, extended family, and friends to my Grandpa during WWII and my grandparent’s respective missions.

I have begun scanning and transcribing.  What a joy!

But I am struggling with a few decisions.

Should I post the letters here or on their own blog?  I haven’t counted the letters, but there are thousands.  If I post them here, how should I alter my posting schedule?

Should I include everything?  My Grandma wrote the word destroy on a few of the envelopes.  You see, she inadvertently “Dear John”ed my Grandpa and was extremely embarrassed by that.  It wasn’t something she talked about.  Ever.  But my Grandpa told me all about it.  How do I handle those letters with respect to both my Grandma’s feelings and honoring the truth of their story?  (I really don’t think she had a reason to be embarrassed, it all worked out just fine in the end.)

Then there are a few letters written by Grandpa’s friends that don’t exactly paint the letter writers in the best light.  Do I include those?

Oh boy!  So many decisions.

So, I have a little survey here with these questions.  Feel free to answer on the survey or in the comments or both.  I would love any feedback that might help me choose a path forward.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 


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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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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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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!


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Ancestor Pedigree by Birthplace

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A few weeks ago a genealogist named J Paul Hawthorne started a trend that was making the rounds on Facebook and genealogy blogs quite heavily for a week or so.  He created a pedigree chart that only shows ancestor’s birth locations.  I was busy writing my posts about my great Uncle Darrell and didn’t make my chart until yesterday.

I have a lot of colors on that chart.  Lots of variety in birth places.  I’m considering taking it back a little bit further on my dad’s side to get it back to the countries of origin.

I am fascinated by this new visual way to consider my ancestors.

Have you made a chart?  You can find an excel template in this post.  I created mine using google docs.

 


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A Cheerful Package

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I opened my door yesterday morning to see a very large box on my porch.  Inside were the three Hollinger boxes and two types of archival folders I ordered recently.

It was just the boost I needed to cheer me up a bit.  As the family member who spends the most time at home, I have been shocked to realize how much of my daily routine rotated around or was affected by our family dog.  Her loss has been very sad for all of us but I spend my day being constantly reminded of her absence.  So a little genealogy package cheer up was perfect yesterday.

Back to the Hollinger supplies.

Last year I was given all of my Grandma’s boxes.  Among the treasures are many letters.  Letters that I am so excited to go through, read, scan, and share with my family.  But, I wasn’t entirely confident about how to go about properly caring for them.

Amy Johnson Crow’s interview with Denise Levenick came at exactly the right time.  After watching I did some more reading and researching and selected some Hollinger supplies and placed my order.

If you have old letters or fragile family documents I highly suggest watching the interview.  It’s not terribly long and has some great tips.

I have a few more projects to wrap up before I start organizing those letters, but I am so excited to put my Hollinger boxes to use!