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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RootsTech Videos & A Question

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If you missed RootsTech, you can still soak up some RootsTech goodness!  Below are links to the recorded sessions available on the RootsTech website.  I’m so sad to say that the LeVar Burton session isn’t included.  It was excellent.  Here is a brief recap article.

I am also delighted to say that they still have the 2016 RootsTech videos available.  They don’t normally do that so I’m not sure how long they will be there.  There are several that are worth watching.

And now for my question…

I purchased a few DNA kits while at RootsTech, a few from ancestry and a few from FamilyTreeDNA.  For those of you who have purchased an ancestry DNA kit for a family member, did you activate the kit before you gave it to them?  Is that the only way I am the steward of the account?  That seems logical to me but I’m hoping for a little input from those of you with experience.

 

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


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Hello Friends!

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RootsTech was fabulous!

I have so much to say about so many things.  I’ll just start with a few headlines:

  • RootsTech.  Love, love, loved that experience once again.  So much learning!  If you didn’t watch LeVar Burton’s opening session, it is a must see.
  • My missionary son has been gone for 6 months on Friday.  It’s going so fast!  A few photos below.
  • A while back I wrote about a new church responsibility that was keeping me busy.  Well, it happened again.  Only this time I am serving in a busy calling with many, many children – my favorite.  The timing slowed me way down, about 7 weeks before my missionary left.  But I’ve got my sea legs and I’m trying to fit in some old loves once again – like blogging.
  • I have been organizing those piles of letters getting ready to start scanning.  Hooray!
  • I am about to foray into the DNA genealogy world.  I have several people I will be testing over the next few months.  Kits purchased, now it’s time to learn.  Please send any beginner tips you have my way.
  • I may not have been writing about family history, but I’ve still been doing plenty of it.  Which means I have many happy discoveries and tips to share.

 

Have a wonderful week, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 


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Words of Wisdom from a Stranger

Everywhere you go

One morning at RootsTech I found myself sitting, waiting for the general session to start.  I was early.  Like waiting before the doors were open early.  It gave me plenty of time to get exactly the right seat, review the classes I wanted to attend that day, and people watch a bit.  And, well, totally eavesdrop.

A few feet from me were two women who were talking about their plan for the day.  Several things were clear from their conversation – they weren’t genealogy rookies, they knew what they were hoping to learn, and they knew each other well.  One of the women mentioned a class she was planning to attend.  The other woman was surprised.  The first woman explained her choice.

She was planning to attend a class that was quite basic.  She said that she knows she has probably missed basic things over the years and is willing to attend a basic class to pick up any of those “missing” skills.

I was impressed with her humility and wisdom.

In fact, I’ve been thinking about her ever since that moment.

This is what I’ve come up with.

NONE of us can know everything about genealogy – every place and time offers different experiences and collections.  Let’s be humble enough to recognize we can learn from any class, any teacher, any fellow genealogist now matter how experienced we are.  Everywhere you go, learn everything you can.

 


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RootsTech Day Three

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I saw this sitting on a table in a classroom and had to snap a picture. It was probably a freebie in the Expo Hall that I didn’t notice.

The general session on Saturday morning was, once again, excellent.  There were two main speakers, Mike Leavitt and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Mike Leavitt shared some stories from his own life.  He told us that he “tricked himself into writing [his] personal history”.  He felt like he was telling the same stories all of the time so he spent a few minutes brainstorming.  He had a goal to write down ten stories – not the whole story, just a word or phrase that would remind him of the story.  He did that so quickly that he decided to come up with 100 stories.  That happened pretty fast too so he decided to see if he could think of 1,000 stories.  He did it.  After a while he organized them and decided to write those 1,000 stories out.  He compiled a personal history for himself and his family.

I think the funniest thing he said was after sharing a story about the Dalai Lama visiting.  He ended the story by saying, “I must be one of the only people on the earth that can say the Dalai Lama substituted for my Sunday School class.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin was a phenomenal speaker.  She shared engaging stories.  I was especially fascinated by her telling of the Fitzgerald/Kennedy family bible that was used for JFK’s swearing in.  She also had a few quote worthy gems.  She expressed her fear that because of our instant world “we are losing the art of storytelling”.

She began and ended by talking about baseball and her dad.  She learned to be a storyteller as a young girl.  She would take notes about the baseball games and then give her father a play-by-play recounting when he got home from work.  She and her family are now serious Red Sox fans.  They have had season tickets for 30 years.  When she sits in the seats with her sons and remembers her father, “whose heart they have come to know through the countless stories I have told”, she says, “there is magic in these moments”.

There were only two class sessions on Saturday.  I chose these classes:

  1. Solutions for Missing or Scarce Records taught by Tom Jones
  2. Five “Musts” to Digitize Your Photos the Right Way taught by Alison Taylor

Again, Tom Jones’ class was the best part of my day.

Alison had me come up to the front and help her by stomping on a loaf of bread to demonstrate compression.  I’m not usually a stomping on bread kind of girl so that was fun.  She gave me a free copy of her book for helping her.  Score.

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During the general session they announced the dates for next years RootsTech so I jotted them down and sent a photo to my sister.  She’s in.  How about you?

 

ps – That camera thing?  Well, it happened again, during the general session.  I guess the camera guys liked me.  😉


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RootsTech Day Two

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Early morning selfie – ready for some genealogy goodness!

Friday was another great day at RootsTech.  The general session was fabulous.

Shipley Munson, the creator of RootsTech shared some cool statistics.  We broke the 26,000 attendees mark on Wednesday.  Attendees came from all 50 states and 37 countries including Myanmar, Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand.  Last year the number of local Family History fairs as an extension of RootsTech was 1,499 and they were held on 5 continents.

AJ Jacobs gave us a report on his 2015 global family reunion and invited us to join him in 2016 for the same event.  He said, “I believe in the message that we are all related.”  I love that.

Josh & Naomi Davis, the bloggers behind the family blog Love Taza, shared some of their family stories and encouraged us to do the same.  I loved Naomi’s first question, “What if my Grandpa Joe had instagram?”  I have often said that my grandma would have LOVED blogging.  Instagram?  She would have loved that too.  Naomi’s heartfelt desire to celebrate motherhood and family was awesome!  She expressed something that is in my heart too.  The world is filled with negative images of families and motherhood.  She wants to be a force for good and share the beauty and challenges of the everyday experience of motherhood.

Ben Bennett, and exec at findmypast, shared the news that the new United States marriage collection is now available and will be free to use through Valentines Day.  There are 33 million marriage records and this collection will continue to grow making it the largest collection of US marriage records.

David Isay was the real showstopper of the morning.  He is the genius behind Story Corps.  He shared powerful clips from a few Story Corps interviews.  They were so raw and real.  Each one drew me in, made me cry, made me laugh and made me fall in love with this incredible organization.  One of the interviews he shared can be found here.  It’s a compelling story of forgiveness and love.  As he concluded he quoted a nun he met (I didn’t get her name) who said, “It’s impossible not to love someone whose story you’ve heard.”  And then he quoted Mother Theresa, “We’ve forgotten that we belong to each other.”

The four classes I chose were:

  1. Maximizing Your Use of Evidence taught by Tom Jones
  2. NARA Mythbusters – Your Family IS in the National Archives taught by Judy Russell
  3. A Digital Treasure: PERSI and Your Family History taught by Josh Taylor
  4. Your Ancestors War Story from Beginning to End taught by Anne Mitchell.

Can I just say that after this second Tom Jones class I was over the moon about his incredible teaching style?  He is brilliant.  I had to buy his book.

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Once classes were over I walked to the FHL and researched until it closed.  I found some amazing things in the books.  I skipped the microfilm since I can order those at BYU for free.

All in all it was another great day and I wondered over and over again why I hadn’t gone before.

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I scored this cool button on Friday and wore it the rest of the time.

One funny thing about Friday – during the general session a camera parked right next to me and stayed, pointed at me for about 10 mintues (it felt sooooo much longer).  It is very difficult to pretend a camera isn’t there!  Then later during Josh Taylor’s class one of the ceiling cameras did the same thing.  Once I thought it had moved back to Josh I looked up only to discover I was wrong, it was still pointed at me.  Oh boy!  I wonder if I’ll make any highlight reels?


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RootsTech Day One

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I got there bright and early and had a perfect seat on the end.

Wow!  Why haven’t I come to RootsTech before?!  It was a great day.  The FHL closed down at 5:15 because of a power outage.  Big bummer.  But on the bright side I have a little time to share a quick recap of my day.

The general session was excellent.  Steve Rockwood’s message was inspiring.  Among other things he told us that we are heart specialists for society and more importantly for our families.  He asked the question, “How are we going to get our families to let us touch their hearts?”  He encouraged us to start small – share stories in a minute or less.  Stories that mean something to us.

Next up was Paula Madison.  Her story of searching for her grandfather was incredibly moving.  She thanked indexers and said, “You got the ball rolling and in six weeks I was no longer lost.”  You can find out more about her story in the documentary she created.

The concluding speaker was Bruce Feiler.  I loved the questions he posed, “What is the secret sauce that holds families together?” and “What do happy families do?”  His answer?  They talk – A LOT.  They talk about what it means to be part of their family.  This helps children develop an oscillating narrative of their family.  When hard times come to them, they can rely on this knowledge of their family’s story to help them understand they will get through it just like their parents, and grandparents did.  We are stronger when we understand we are part of an inter-generational self.

The four classes I chose today were:

  1. Parish Registers of England and Wales taught by Audrey Collins
  2. Inferential Genealogy: Deducing Ancestors’ Identities Indirectly taught by Tom Jones (my favorite! so fabulous!)
  3. Developing a DNA Testing Plan taught by Paul Woodbury
  4. Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy taught by Lisa Louise Cooke

I loved them.  More details on those classes later.

The expo hall is filled with goodies, deals, little freebies and a few photo opportunities.  Like these:

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My face, old photo

A fun idea in theory – putting your face into an old photo – but the execution was hard.  I just couldn’t pull if off with my glasses on so the woman running the booth told me to just take them off and she would tilt my head for me.  Hmmmm….  😉

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I went with the Mickey props because I knew my 3 year old would love them.

It was an excellent, smooth day.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Now I’m off to try a few googling tricks before I fall asleep.

Happy researching!

 

– I called this RootsTech Day One – it was day one for me but Thursday, day two for RootsTech.