Search This Blog


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Family History Writing Projects

Tomorrow begins the Family History Writing Challenge, and boy I am ready to get this show started.  I have thought, considered, discussed, reconsidered, and finally decided on what my month long project will be.  Actually, it will be 2 projects.  Yep, the over achiever has struck again.

Project 1: Heirloom Histories
I have a lot of items in my house that are not valuable to anyone outside of the family.  Items that include treasured bits of paper, figurines, costume jewelry, and books just to name a few.  However, each has a story and I want to make sure that I am able to write those down before they are lost to the winds. With any luck this will be a project that I can continue building on for a long time to come.

Project 2: Family Cookbook
This is a project that I have been organizing through my mom’s Arvin/Armstrong family for the past few months.  It all started last fall when I went hunting for a recipe for a dish my grandmother used to make.  I couldn’t find it, but luckily my dad found his copy.  You can read the story at my post Family Notes and Good Food. That was the catalyst I needed to get me seriously thinking about a cookbook of family recipes.  I wanted to get them all written down so the next generations can have them too.

Over the next month I will sit down and write a story and/or format a page of the cookbook each day.  My goal is 250 words minimum each day for the story or a recipe completely formatted.  Of course I will share my experiences with you all along the way.  Posting will keep me honest and on track as I complete my daily goals. It is my intention to do a week in review post on Monday mornings that will give you my progress updates, frustrations, how it is all going in general, plus my favorite story that I wrote week before.  You know that I can’t resist telling a good story after all.  If I have more than one story to share I will post them over that next week while I am writing my next set.

Okay, I have a plan…now off to make it happen!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A successful twitter chat: #genchat recap

I feel like treating myself for trying
something new....
Last Friday I participated in the #genchat over on Twitter.  I know, it is now Tuesday and I am only now getting this posted.  So you know I have had my children home with cabin fever for 6 days…feel my pain...and the inability to get anything productive done thanks to the weather.

This was the first time I have ever participated in a Twitter Chat.  I didn’t know what to expect, let alone how wonderful it was going to be.  Yes, the tweets came fast and furious, but once you got the hang of the format and how it was going, it really wasn’t so bad I thought. To help with the chat I used an application called TweetChat to manage the feed, which I have to say made the experience a lot more user friendly. 

If you were unable to participate in the chat never fear, there is a way for you to read all the tweets!  Using Storify one of the moderators, Jen Baldwin, created a summary of all the tweets from the evening.  She did cut the jokes out, which, in all fairness, you kind of had to be there to understand.  Also on her post about the event Jen shared the stats for the evening and her impressions.  Go check it out, they are pretty impressive!

10 pm was a bit late for me; I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the end.  However, that may be from the fact that I brought the lap top to bed with me and it was super comfy, and warm.  Next time I will stay put at the desk, in the uncomfy desk chair, freezing.  Comfy covers aside, I learned some things, got to share some things, and had a blast kidding around with others. You could say I enjoyed myself immensely.  Trying something new and out of my comfort zone is always hard for me, but I am so glad I gave this a shot.  I see it being a great way for family historians and genealogists to interact from all over.  I wonder if there are other chats like this I need to go and investigate? 

These #genchats will be continuing every 2 weeks for the rest of the year.  The next chat will be Friday February 8 and the topic will be “Weekend Warriors: best tips for 60 minutes of research.”  I am interested to see what types of tips will be offered up by the participants.  It has me thinking about how I do quick and effective research when I only have a few minutes to spare.

I hope to see many of you at the next one!

*photo credit: Cakehead Loves via photopin cc

Friday, January 25, 2013

Are you attending #genchat?

PictureThere is an exciting thing happening tonight over on Twitter.  It is the first genealogy chat, ever as far as I can tell, and it should be very exciting!  You can learn more by reading the pressrelease on Conference Keeper.  Conference Keeper, for those who don’t know it, is the calendar with all the genealogy conferences and workshops posted in one place.  It is fantastic!

Not sure what a Tweet Chat or Twitter Party is?  Well, check out these resources to answer your questions.   How to Participate in a Tweet Chat by Janet Fouts and Getting Started: A Guide for Beginners by tweeparties (both referenced on the press release from Conference Keeper).

Per the invite I received, here is the information on how you can attend:

Join us for the first ever #genchat!
Genealogy conversation and collaboration, using the power of Twitter.
Hope to see you there! 

Please feel free to share this Event!

Jan 25, 2013
10 PM Eastern
9PM Central
8PM Mountain
7PM Pacific.

See the full description of #genchat here

See the 2013 Schedule for #genchat here: 

Get your #genchat badges here, and share the Twitter love! 

Tonight’s chat will be on starting your 2013 research off on the right foot.  Looking over the list I can see quite a few topics that should get a lot of attention.  I know I am interested in newspaper research, oral histories, cemetery projects, and continuing education to name a few.

Look for me on Twitter @tntfamhist!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Glimpse into the past: Journal of Charles Arvin

View of Khorramabad, Iran by:

I seem to have hit a slump in my research and my time.  Has to happen every so often, but darn is it frustrating.  Lately my time has been spent going through files, organizing papers (digital and real), and cleaning up “stuff” in my workspace.  Yesterday I spent 6 hours cleaning out/off my desk…wow…what a difference a clean desk makes!

The one thing that has my attention, when I have time to lay my hands on it, is my grandfather’s journal from 1957.  My mother gave it to me to read when I was home last month.  It is his daily journal chronicling his time stationed in Iran working with the army of the Shah.  Yes, I said Iran.  He did a tour of duty there training the military in firing artillery.  My grandfather was in the ADA (air defense artillery) during his time in the service, and from what I can tell, had some pretty good times over there.

The journal starts on 5 January 1957 with him departing from Ft. Dix New Jersey at 1430 hours.  Grandpa traveled first to McGuire AFB then onto Lajes AFB in the Azores, Wheelus AFB in Libya, Dhahran AFB in Saudi Arabia, and then to Tehran.  From there he took a train to his home for the next year in Khorramabad.  He arrived at 2350 hours on 13 January 1957.

“Up early to get ready to leave.  Departed Tehran at 1100 hours by train. I goofed tipped the porters at the station 200 Rials = $2.64 hell of a tip for 5 suitcases.  They put one over on me. But I learned. The train is very nice European style cars first class each passenger has a Pullman birth to a compartment. I, Capt Ward, an Englishman, and an Iranian Businessman occupied the same compartment. The train is diesel Electric but goes very slow. Most of the trip to Dorude was thru the mountains. We arrived at Dorude at 2100 hours was met by trucks from the team. Arrived at Khorramabad my house for the next year at 2350 hours. What a place.”

Grandpa and the bear
One of his favorite pastimes, it appears, was to go hunting with his fellow officers.  In fact, less than 24 hours at his new duty station and he was off hunting.  I know he went hunting for gazelles, bears, duck, and pigeons to name a couple I have read about so far.  My mom has a picture of her dad with the bear he shot while in Iran, his one big game prize.  Unfortunately when it was sent out to be turned into a rug, it was destroyed beyond repair.  Mom says her dad was upset about that till the day he died.  I even remember my grandmother telling me how there should have been a bear skin rug in the house.

His diary ends on 28 November and I don’t know why he didn’t continue through to the end of the year.  He only had one more month left to go in his tour before coming back to his family stateside.  I know this is going to be an interesting read, even if it is dry at times, because it is something my grandfather wrote.  He died before I was born and all I have are the stories my family tells me. This diary is the closest thing I have to him talking to me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Taking on the next generation

Today I had a new experience: talking to a group of middle school kids about what I do with genealogy and blogging.  I actually had a bit of nerves going into it.  To be honest, I studied to be a secondary science teacher and took classes on the psychology of this age group.  I remember those lessons and that this can be a difficult age group.  Then there is the fact that I have friends who have taught this age group, my dad taught middle school many years ago, and of course I ran through my head every evil thing they said had ever happened to them.  On top of it I was having flash backs to me as a 6/7/8th grader and I wasn't feeling any better. Yes, I could be trouble at those ages, no one tell my kids.

You know what, even with all my nerves, it was wonderful.  No one threw anything at me and I wasn't mocked at all!  In all seriousness I was so happy they were engaged and listened to what I had to say.  Their questions were great and the kids showed a real enthusiasm to know more about what I told them.  I couldn't have been more pleased at the way the classes went.

It was wonderful to see several budding genealogists in my midst.  There were a couple of 8th graders who were very interested in how to do genealogy.  Many of them knew a lot about their family already from listening to stories that their parents and grandparents had told them.  It was heartwarming to know that there are families out there who are still passing down their stories to the next generations.

I did have to, gently, inform a couple of girls that they still needed to prove what they had been told.  You all know what I am talking about: family stories that may have a seed of the truth but have been built upon over the years.  I compared it to the telephone game (and had to explain to some of them what that game was).  The first generation or two have it right, but the next generations could add, delete, or alter facts as the years go on.  I am not sure they bought it, but I gave them advice on how they can research the stories and prove them true, or not.

For my first foray into speaking on a genealogy topic I couldn't have asked for an easier forum.  If I am offered an opportunity to do this again I will say yes!  I hope you all also have the opportunity to speak to a group of kids about your passion as well.  Passionate speakers are contagious…and we need to start working on the next generations who will take our places.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heraldic Primer Part 5

In this fifth part of my series on heraldry and today I wanted to talk about various types of flora you could come across in heraldry.  Please be aware this is by no means a complete list, however, I have included famous flowers as well as how you name different styles.  We are almost done with the parts and soon I can tell you about putting it all together!


There are many forms of flowers that you can find in heraldry.  If you can see it in nature, you can probably find it.  Thistles are used in numerous Scottish arms since it is the heraldic emblem of Scotland as are the trillium for Canada and the clover for Ireland.  There are stylized lotus flowers, lavender sprigs, tulip bulbs, fruit tree blossoms, and many more.  Listed below are the most found flowers that you will see.

The fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys) is the most common charge in heraldic flowers, and the heraldic cadency mark for the sixth son.  The plural, fleurs-de-lis, is seen as the background on the arms for the Kings of France.  This charge is a stylized lily, some think the Iris but more often than not it is associated with other forms of native lilies like the calla lily or lilies of the valley.  It can be styled many different ways, but it is always made up of four parts: a center petal, two side petals bending away from the center, and a band holding the three together.


One of the most beautiful flower charges you will see in heraldry is the rose.  It is also the heraldic cadency mark for the seventh son of a house.  Shown as a flower with 5 petals, the rose is drawn like you would see a hedge rose of the dogrose or sweet briar variety.  Unless otherwise stated in the blazon all roses will be stylized like this.  Sometimes you will see another garden variety named, but it is not as common. 

There are a number of ways the rose can be drawn, as shown below.

Finally, the last grouping of common flower charges is what I like to call the “foils.”  They are flower like charges that have 3-7 petals.  Foils can be slipped (have a stylized stem) or can be pierced (a hole through the center).  The first part of each name is the Italian root for the number: tre, quarte, cinque, sex, and sept.  One oddity is eight, or the double quatrefoil, which is also the cadency marker for the 8th son.

Below are examples of the other types of foils most commonly seen.  They may be drawn as simple circles or with more pronounced lobes. 


Crops and Symbols of Harvest

Fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains are also found in heraldry.  Most notably, for those from the UK, is the leek for Wales.  For the more unusual, and rare, you can find celery, carrots, and cucumbers.  All charges in this category are shown in the natural, or proper, state.  Few even have specific names for their charge.  Below is a listing of the most common charges found in this category as well as ones with specific names.

All forms of trees are present in heraldry.  Most common is the oak but you will see all types of pine, palm, laurel, lemon, palmetto, and willow to name a few.  There are several different ways they can be drawn, however, besides in their natural state.  Many of the heraldic trees are shown stylized with overly large fruit and leaves; however that is not as common in more recent practices.  Below are the ways a heraldic tree may be seen.

If you are interested in where I found these images please message me.  I tried a new way of inserting images this time and I was not able to link each image with its source.  Still learning all the ins and outs on making this type of post work.  Most of the images are from the  Heraldic Clipart Collection.

Next time we will look at inanimate objects!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Carving out the time

Lately I am beginning to feel a bit like a slacker.  Seriously, I have not done any personal family research in weeks.  What kind of blogger am I?  I mean really. 

On a slightly less tongue in check note, life has been a bit of a whirlwind.  Starting as a writer with the IDG has been a big priority for the last month.  Papers, research, bios, planning, you know all the stuff that keeps you busy but not in the personal research field.  I have been learning a lot though, as this is a completely new experience for me, and I am winding my way through the best I can.  I hope you enjoy the articles over there and check out my fellow writers.  They have quite the crew of amazing people.

Image by Mike Licht

This leads me back to once again looking at myself wondering “what kind of blog is this, and where am I going with it?”  I guess everyone who writes has to do this on occasion.  Mostly to make sure you, the writer, don’t get stagnant and there is still a connection with other people, aka the readers.  This blog is my primary way to interact with family, friends, followers, cousin hunters, or anyone else interested in the many branches of my family tree.  So far I think it is working out well and as an added bonus you get to hear about other stuff I think is interesting in the genealogy world.  Lucky you.

But, let’s get back to writing.  To get me, and the rest of you, in the mood for personal family history writing I wanted to let you know that Lynn Palermo, The Armchair Genealogist, is doing her Family History Writing Challenge again.  If you need motivation, help, pushing, inspiration, or anything else to write about your family history go check it out.  The challenge is 28 days long, running the entire month of February, and is designed for you to work at your own pace.  Just start writing and get something down!  When you sign up to write you can access the forum and chat with other aspiring and professional writers. I can’t believe I am about to write this (with everything I have on my plate) but I am going to do the challenge this year.  Figuring out what I am going to write about and in what format is the problem.  Good thing I have a few weeks!  Whatever the topic ends up being, I want to commit to 500 words, or about a page, a day on the subject.  That should be fairly easy as I write 400-600 words easily anytime I sit down do write a blog post here.  Fingers crossed.

Okay back to the grindstone.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My turn at the podium

This spring I have volunteered to do some things that I have not yet in done in genealogy: speak to a live audience.  Wow, it makes it even scarier typing it down!  Even with all the nerves I know I am going to have a great time because I will be speaking on something that I truly love and enjoy doing.  When you are passionate about your subject your enthusiasm bleeds through.  It can’t help itself!

Don’t get me wrong, I have spoken in public before.  I have even taught large groups.  During my senior year at Indiana University I was an undergraduate teaching assistant for a class on Chemistry for non-majors.  My study section had 150 students in it and as there was just me and the grad student we had our plate full.  After college I began sharing my love of needle work and sewing by teaching small numbers in beginning embroidery.  Over the last few years I began teaching classes on stained glass, calligraphy, and medieval manuscript painting.  The largest of which had nearly 75 people.  However, I had years hanging out in the background of those circles before I got up the nerve to start teaching and lecturing in those subjects.

First up is a talk to 6­-8th graders at the local Middle School.  I will be speaking to the journalism and creative writing classes about being a blogger as well as genealogy.  Kids can be hard, even harder is when one of them may be your son.  I have already promised to be on my best behavior and not embarrass him…too much.  I am really excited about this. It is going to be so much fun to talk to kids about social media, blogging, and how it shapes the world today. Really, it is amazing when I think that in a few short years they will be in college and who knows how the tech and information world will have changed by then.

Later this spring I will also be giving a presentation on Blogging and Social Media to a local genealogy society as well as an introductory talk on Genetic Genealogy.  When those are finalized and scheduled I will let everyone know.  If you are in the area try to come by!

My big question, if anyone out there wants to answer, is what type of advice would you give a first time genealogy speaker?  Anything you wish you had known before you got up the first time?  Tips or tricks you would like to share with everyone?  You have my full attention.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Writer at The In-Depth Genealogist

As the title suggests, there is a new writer at The In-Depth Genealogist (IDG).  I am very excited to let you all know... it is me.  This is the next step in a journey that I hope will take me further into the genealogy field that I have grown to love.  Who knows what will happen next?  You can read my introduction post here.

My monthly column will focus on lineage societies.  There are quite a few out there that are unique, different, and down right surprising!  I will write about a different society, or group of societies  each month so keep checking back.  You never know what I might discover.

Also I will be writing monthly blog posts on technology that genealogists could find useful.  Subjects will range from apps, gadgets, tools, software, hardware, or anything else that may help you further your electronic genealogy journey.  I really love my gadgets and gizmos so having an outlet for my curiosity, and an excuse to sample things, is a bonus.

See you at the IDG!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Family Notes and Good Food

photo credit: timsackton via photopin cc
Last fall I had a crazy idea that I would make a family cookbook for my mother’s family.  Okay, to be honest, it stems from the fact that I couldn't locate a recipe that I really wanted to make.  I knew someone in the family had to have it if my dad couldn't find it in the kitchen.  Yes, you didn't read that wrong, my dad is the cook in our family not my mom.  Thankfully he found what I was looking for, but I now had a nagging desire to make the cookbook happen anyway.

I knew this was going to be a hard task.  First people had to submit the recipes and then I had to try and make them personal.  Nothing ever turns out the way you want but I still have high hopes that this will be an awesome family heirloom book.  Currently I am up to 25 submissions, which is not too shabby if I say so myself.

Best part is the couple handwritten notes cards that have been scanned in and sent to me.  Seeing my great aunts handwriting again brought out emotions I wasn’t expecting.  Just like when I was home over the holidays and my dad showed me his mother’s recipe card for raisin pie.  She had written it years ago and at first we both thought it was his handwriting.  Neither of us realized until then how much their handwriting was alike.  The pie was his dad’s favorite and grandma would make for every occasion, just for him.  Dad made it this year while we were home, and I have to admit, I liked it.  Very bad for you, but I liked it anyway.

Out of curiosity I Googled raisin pie to see what I could come up with. Intermingled in the results for rum raisin, apple/walnut/raisin, and rhubarb raisin pies were ones for my "traditional" raisin pie.  There was an interesting blog post on it about being a mourning pie for the Amish. Interesting to me as there is a large Amish and Mennonite population in the part of Indiana they lived.  Another one even had a video on how to make it!  Even more amazing to me was that they both are the exact same recipe that my grandmother had written down decades ago.

These searches lead me to think I needed to share my small family story too.  So, because I am all about sharing today, here is my grandfather Paul Combs’s favorite pie recipe.  Let me know if you try it, or if you have ever had it before, and what you think of  the traditional pie.  

image from
Raisin Pie Filling
2 C Raisins
2 C Water
1/2 C Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp.  Salt
1 Tbsp. Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Butter
Pastry for 9 inch double crust

Boil raisins in 1 ¾ cups water for 5 minutes.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt with ¼ cup cold water.  Add to raisins, stirring until mixture boils.  Remove from fire.  Add butter and vinegar.  Pour into lined pie tin.  Cover top with pastry and bake 25 minutes in hot oven.

Note: She states a hot oven is about 375°F in a small side scribble  My dad makes it with a lattice top but you can make it with a solid top.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

John Sample Armstrong and Ila Sanders: A Forgotten Image

John Sample Armstrong and Ila Sanders
John Armstrong and Ila Sanders are my great grandparents on my mother’s side.  Until this last trip home, however, I can never remember seeing a picture of them together and only one of him. However, in the bottom of a manila envelope full of crinkled, warped, and haphazardly packaged pictures I found an envelope.  Inside it was a negative, a black and white copy, and an original sepia colored image of them.  It was one of the few labeled pictures in the whole bunch.  All I wanted was for my grandmother to be alive again to tell me once more about her parents.  She loved telling me stories about her parents, siblings, growing up on their farm.  Her mother was his second wife and in total John had 19 children over thirty years.    

Her father, John Sample Armstrong, was born 20 April 1856 at Buzzard Ridge, Tuscarawas County, Ohio to Robert Armstrong and Mary Foster Sample.  John had 10 siblings, and moved with his family to Martin County Indiana when he was 10 years old.  One of the stories grandma told me about her father was him talking about the Civil War.  He could remember his older brothers marching out of town to go and fight, his mother was holding his hand while she cried silently standing next to him.  According to a family genealogy book my mother was gifted from her mother, William served as a private in Companies I and D in the 51st Regiment of Volunteer Infantry for Ohio from 1862-1865.  It doesn't say if John’s other two older brothers, James and Robert, served but they would have been barely old enough to fight at the beginning of the war.  She always said brothers though, so I will keep investigating. 

John was a school teacher for nearly 50 years, educating most of his children at the local one room school house.  Grandma told me he had a love of the classics and Latin insisting that his children studied hard and gained a good education.  They owned dairy cows and worked their small farm in the Trinity Springs area, now known as Crane Naval Station.  First he married Catherine Holt on 18 November 1877 and together they had 9 children: Claude, Robert Carlisle, Mable, Fern, Zorah, Bonnie Bell, Otto, Othello, and Ruby. Catherine, known as Kate, died at the age of 37 on 10 September 1897.  She is buried with her family in the Holt Family Cemetery on Crane.

Ila Sanders, his second wife, was born on 19 February 1881 in Martin County, Indiana to Josephus Sanders and Mary Ellen Wildman.  Her father, incidentally, was two years younger than her new husband.  Also, in a strange twist of fate, Ila was being courted by one of John’s older sons (either Claude or Robert).  Grandma told me that when Ila was brought by to meet his father John was smitten and he began courting her too.  My grandmother’s father stole his son’s fiancĂ© right from under him, but from all accounts they had a good life.

They were married 24 November 1901 and had 10 children: Kathleen, John Lee, Lowell, Beatrice, Max, Hope, George Gordon, Maxine, William Lodge, and Jean.  John died 18 May 1929 when his youngest child was seven years old.  Ila followed him on 2 October 1949.  They are both buried at West Union Cemetery on Crane.  There are stories that Ila is buried at Goodwill Cemetery in Loogootee, Indiana, however her tombstones are both at West Union.  I am working on verifying the correct location and why there is a discrepancy in family history. 

From what I can understand having that many brothers and sisters made for all sorts of trouble, and quite a few humorous stories to boot.  Below are three of my favorites that my grandmother told me, quite often, as I grew up.  I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I loved hearing them.

My favorite story, that would make my grandmother giggle every time, involved a mocking bird and the word mom.  You can imagine having that number of children around meant there were quite a few yells of “MOM!” from many different mouths.  A mocking bird took up residence in a large tree one summer near the house.  Ila was in the kitchen doing dishes at the sink when she heard calls of “MOM! MOM! MOM!” coming from outside.  She picked up the dish towel to dry her hands and went searching for the child who was yelling.  Halfway through the yard is when she realized all the kids were gone and no one was at the farm but her.  The calls started again “MOM! MOM! MOM!” and she tracked the racket to the large tree near the house.  There, on a low branch was a mocking bird imitating her kids. 

Right after John died Ila had her first major haircut.  Grandma told me it was hot and sticky that summer and her mom was tired of her bun and hair getting in her way.  The weight of her thick hair often gave her headaches.  Her older sister (either Beatrice or Hope) was home and grandma said that she was scandalous with her short hair and flapper style dress.  She had an idea for her mom, and convinced Ila to sit down in a chair in the kitchen, she was going to cut her mother’s hair short.  Grandma said her mom was not sure about this and protested at first, but was not up for fighting it.  Ila’s hair was dark brown with a touch of grey in it hanging past her waist.  Her sister brushed it back and cut it off, all one length, just below her shoulders.  That way her mom could still put it up, but it wasn't so heavy and in the way all the time.  Grandma said that her mom was ecstatic about it and couldn't believe how much better she felt.  Her older daughter gave her an “I told you so” look that made them all laugh that much harder.

Finally, a story about her dad.  John had a beautiful chestnut buggy horse.  The only problem, the horse had a horrible issue with passing gas.  Yes, a farting horse.  When his boys began courting one of them was so embarrassed by the horse that he would whip him every time the horse would… let one go.  John had no idea this was happening and was quite surprised when he and his wife were riding in the buggy one day and the horse began to jump uncontrollably away from the carriage jarring them each time he did so.  They were nearly thrown from the buggy on their way into town and turned around to walk the buggy home.  That poor horse was flinching afraid he was going to get hit with buggy whip each time he had the urge, which caused more stress.  See the problem yet?  Her older brothers were in deep trouble with their father, who was not laughing at the time.  To say their hide was tanned and they were punished for ruining a perfectly good horse would put it mildly.  Grandma said that when she heard her father tell this story, many years later, he would start to laugh very hard remembering that poor horse and the look on her older brother’s face when her dad got home.  All because of an embarrassing situation on a date; teenagers never change do they?

Friday, January 4, 2013

To educate or not to educate... that is the question

No new discoveries this week, yet, but lots of tagging, storing, sorting, and reading since we came home this past weekend.  However, I have discovered once again that my thoughts are drifting back to taking classes in genealogy.  What can I say?  I am an odd person.

From the Library of Congress
Woman reading a book (Eloyse et Abailard)
The classes I took through Family Tree while their blogger where great.  They gave me the basics, got me started on a whole bunch of different topics, but I still feel I need something else.  Call it my over prepared, overly organized, what don’t know, genes kicking in.  Yes, I am the type of person who doesn’t do anything until it has been thoroughly thought through, planned out, and I have read the directions five times.  Well… there are exceptions to that rule, which have led to hilarity and bizarre outcomes.  So, like I said, total preparedness is good!

From what I can gather there is a lot of choices on education out there; professional level all the way down to hobbyist.  I still don’t know what I want to achieve with this new found path of mine, but I do know that I still feel like I am missing some key component to my education in this world.  When I was reading up on the subject I found this great post by Gena P. Ortega called Getting a Genealogical Education.  She had a good listing of free and paid classes, podcasts, university settings, and more.  You want an education? Gena tells you how to accomplish it.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a researcher at heart.  This is a fact; it is something that I have been doing for years.  You have read about how I love to sit on the floor of libraries, crawl around dusty books, and drink my tea while spending hours searching the internet.  The research is the thrill for me, which is why I loved my undergraduate research project.  The main difference between that and this was in one I watched crystals grow under a microscope for three years and now I hunt down dead people.  The crawling around libraries hasn’t changed though.

What I need to get better at is putting it all together.  Mainly taking my findings then making them into a useable and engaging piece and finally putting them out there in the world for others to read.  It is still hard for me to think of myself as a writer after years of being told this is something I would never excel at (once again, there are only so many ways to write a lab report) that it may take a while to break down those built up walls in my head.  Talking with you is easy, maybe because I only know a handful personally.   

Besides being a better, more researched, and well-spoken writer I think one day I would also like to help others.  I have a service streak a mile wide in me.  Giving back and helping is second nature to me, and has got me in hot water a time or two with over volunteering.  However, if I could turn this obsession into something that could assist others and possibly garner a pay check, that would be awesome. 

There are many free resources out there, and I have used most of them.  I guess I need to know if I am missing something by not taking “formal” classes.  Right now I am only looking at things I can do online.  As a busy mom I have to work around school schedules and bus times which leave little opportunity for me to up and go anywhere (like an institute for a week).  Below is the list I complied of places I have looked at and my thoughts on them.  If you think I have missed one that I should consider, or have an insight into a program, I would love to know.

Boston University:  I have been looking at this program for over a year.  In fact, I even filled out their online questionnaire and talked to a representative from the college.  The Certificate Program in Genealogical Research is supposed to give you a basis to prepare yourself for Certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCD).  Certification is a process that I really want to go through for some reason, even though I am not sure why I have the urge.

National Institute for Genealogical Studies:  They offer a variety of courses that certify you in a specific record group (there are 9 to choose from).  After completing the program you receive a Certificate in Genealogical Studies and can use the postnomials PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies).  Looking at the certificates available through the program think I could get the most out of either the General Methodology Certificate, or one of the specialized certificates in a country that I am interested in.  The Librarianship Certificate looks interesting, but as I have no training as a librarian nor do I work at a library so it would be silly to take it.

National Genealogical Society(NGS):  As a member (which you all should be… it’s a steal) you can participate in the Home Study Course.  However, this course means you, the student, have to be self-motived and on top of everything.  There is a graded option, which would be my choice since that would force me to work in a timely manner and not procrastinate.  In addition to this course the NGS also has a plethora of other materials available for their members, some free some not.

Heritage Genealogical College:  This site was intriguing to me.  Still poking around it, but I am not sure that I would be able to dedicate myself to a full course load of 15-19 hours for the foreseeable future.  At least not until my youngest one is a bit older and isn’t as dependent on me.  Besides, you can never have too many Bachelor’s degrees right?

Decisions… decisions…

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back home again

Sorry I have been a bit AWOL; this time of the year does it to me.  I am sure you all can relate to some degree. There were Kids activities, visiting the parents, getting everything together for various celebrations.  Yes, celebrations, as in multiple birthdays in the family this time of year, and, the anniversary of my and my husband’s first date.  In a few weeks it will be the 20th anniversary of that event; it is still hard to believe.

However, our annual trek to let the kids visit their grandparents has once again come and gone.  We gave each of them a blank leather bound journal and a list of questions that the boys wanted to know about.  A way of getting our parents started on all those questions I get asked every day about them but in some cases have no idea what the answer is!  My dad said “you gave me homework for Christmas?”

I also had a wonderful conversation with my father-in-law and was able to share with him all the interesting tidbits that I had found out about his grandfather Bennett’s parents and grandparents.  Oh, and silly me, forgot to tell my mother-in-law about all the DNA testing we have done this fall.  I am going to start keeping better records or who I tell what.  Never quite sure who knows what in the family…maybe they should read my blog more.

Same as last year I went through more old boxes at my parents’ house.  Amazing treasures once again, and I made my dad promise that they would not be stored on the back porch but in an interior closet!  The mid 1800’s photograph in its frame was the most jaw dropping discovery of the afternoon.  Now, if I only knew who he was. 

Tucked in the boxes were little notes from my grandmother, grandfather, and even my mother.  We decided that one of the boxes must have been hastily thrown together after the water heater broke in the house about 10 years ago.  There was stuff from my room, a couple things that were my husband’s, some of my mother’s papers, and a box of slides and negatives from my grandparents.  It must have been the closest plastic box at hand when the stuff was all wet. 

I love reading little notes written by people.  The grocery lists were interesting, the Wal-Mart receipt from the late 80’s was fascinating (and cheap!), and then there was the cryptic note from my mom on the back of a gauze 1x1 “The Crucial Ligaments ‘Red, Nose level’.”  I read it, looked at her, read it again, and finally said “what the hell does this mean mom?”  She looked at it, giggled, and then took me to her office.  She had written directions to my dad years ago about where to find a book, The Crucial Ligaments.  There were other notes in there too.  Like this one I discovered from my grandfather: “This and a fur coat when we get where we can find one. Probably Detroit.”  I would love to know what this card was attached to!  Grandma had a fur coat that she wore everywhere in the 40’s and into the early 50’s.  It was damaged at some point and she had it turned into 2 fashionable stoles.  I have one, and my mom has the other.   They are amazing to say the least.

Of course I couldn’t go home without another marathon scanning session.  This time I mainly copied old photographs that look like members of the family but have no identifiers written on them.  I sent copies out to the family email list hoping that someone can give me a clue to their identities.  Best of all we found my grandfather’s service record from when he retired.  So now I have a listing of his complete military record since I am unable to get it from the St. Louis Archives. (Darn that fire)

This should keep me a busy for a few weeks you know: cataloguing, reading, analyzing, filing, those sorts of things.  Lots to do!