Thursday, September 22, 2022

From Training Ship to Bandmaster: Goliath Boys

My husband's Slatter ancestors, who lived in the impoverished London neighborhood of Whitechapel, have quite a back story. I've previously researched and written about the difficult life and sad fate of his great-great grandmother Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889), who ended her days in an insane asylum. Her husband, John Slatter (1838-1901) left his family behind even before Mary died, making his way to Ohio to start over. 

The impressive--and inspiring--part of this family's history, however, is that as adults, the Slatter children broke the cycle of poverty. Both of the daughters (Ada and Mary) followed their father to Ohio, married hard-working men, and raised children in the Buckeye State. 

Amazingly, three Slatter sons--Albert William (1862-1935), Henry Arthur (1866-1942), and John Daniel (1864-1954)--began the journey toward a better future when they were placed on a training ship anchored in the Thames. They became "Goliath boys."

On the Training Ship Goliath

The Slatter children had been sent to Forest Gate School for education while their father was absent and their mother was in an asylum. From 1870 on, this school operated a training ship positioned near Grays, called the Goliath. The goal was to teach young pauper boys necessary skills that would prepare them for military or civilian occupations (and keep them out of poorhouses).

From knots to notes, plus swimming and reading, thousands of boys gained skills especially valuable for the Royal Navy or for serving on merchant vessels. Instructors hoped their students would "follow the sea" after leaving the Goliath, and many did just that.

The training situation was highly disciplined, and conditions often were harsh...but the three Slatter boys apparently had musical talent that was shaped and sharpened by their time on the Goliath. In fact, John was Band Sergeant and solo cornet of the Goliath's Boy's Band at the age of 11, in 1875, according to one of his obituaries.

Tragedy on the Goliath

Teenaged Albert William Slatter left the Goliath in November of 1875, enlisting in the Shropshire Light Infantry--not the Royal Navy

But the other two Slatter boys--not yet teens--were among the hundreds of students remaining on the Goliath when fire broke out on December 22, 1875.

Despite efforts to extinguish the flames, the ship was consumed by fire and the boys were urged to save themselves by diving into the water. John Daniel Slatter and Henry Arthur Slatter survived by jumping into the Thames, but some students and at least one adult died, sad to say.

This horrific fire was covered by newspapers far and wide, I was a bit surprised to learn when I did an online search. In addition to British press, I found coverage stretching into 1876 in the New York Times and even in a New Zealand paper, and the Goliath has multiple online references (not just a brief, sketchy Wikipedia page).

From Goliath to the Exmouth

The Exmouth, another training ship in the Thames, was the next stop for many of the students who escaped the Goliath fire. 

At top is an excerpt from a record book for the Exmouth, showing that John Slatter was a "Goliath boy" moved to the Exmouth from March to August of 1876. The notation states he was discharged to an Army regiment in Colchester--not the Royal Navy!

Above, the record book page for Henry Arthur Slatter, also listed as a "Goliath Boy," living on the Exmouth until September of 1877. Subsequently, Henry joined the Army--not the Royal Navy

Building Better Lives 

In time, all three of these Slatter brothers used their musical skills to advance through the ranks and become highly respected military bandmasters in Canada, as well as devoted family men.

John Daniel Slatter was bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto, which popularized the "kiltie band" fad at the turn of the 20th century.

Henry Arthur Slatter was bandmaster of the 72d Seaforth Highlanders of Vancouver.

Albert William Slatter was bandmaster of the 7th London Fusiliers of Ontario.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Low Points and High Points of Ed's 1926 Summer of Jazz

On this day, 96 years ago, my late father-in-law (Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986) arrived in New York City aboard the S.S. Berengaria, after a summer of playing jazz piano across the Atlantic and across the European continent.

His name appears at the top of this excerpt from the passenger manifest from the Berengaria, which sailed from Cherbourg on September 11, 1926, and docked in New York City on September 17, 1926. The manifest identifies Ed as a native of Cleveland, Ohio, born on August 13, 1903--exactly matching the passport he saved for the rest of his life. Ed turned 23 years old during that summer.

Ed had been at Tufts College, not graduating because he failed the language requirement. During his college years and for a time afterward, he played piano on gigs around Boston and beyond. That's how he met Richard "Dick" Bowers (see starred name on manifest above) and was recruited for the 1926 summer of jazz. At this point in the Roaring Twenties, jazz had become a worldwide phenomenon.

Low points, high points

Dick, the band leader, billed the group as an all-American college jazz band. For several summers in succession, he secured bookings to play on trans-Atlantic ships, then at resorts around Europe, then on a return voyage back to New York. 

Ed and the other musicians received little or no pay on the ships, playing in return for their passage. Similarly, their pay at the resorts was minimal, but they were allowed to use some of the resort facilities.

Fortunately, Ed kept notes of those unforgettable adventures in 1926, which whetted his appetite for foreign travel. 

The low points: being housed in dinky, tacky "staff rooms" at the ritziest resorts and pooling money with band members to buy super-cheap food toward the end of the summer when cash was running low. 

The high point? When interviewed by the Boston Herald a few weeks after he sailed home, here's what Ed said about his 1926 summer of jazz:

One of the things I remember best was when we played at a costume ball given by Count Volki, Italian minister of finance--he was at the head of the Italian debt commission to the United States, you know--at his castle on the Grand Canal, in honor of Prince Umberto, the Crown Prince. It was attended by members of the royal family and a host of Italian dukes and counts. It was one of the things that you see only in the movies, unless you are fortunate enough to be a member of the Italian nobility or a jazz musician.

"High and low" is the theme for this week's #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Married 124 Years Ago by Reverend Hopkins

On September 21, 1898, nearly 124 years ago, my husband's grandparents Mary Slatter (1869-1925) and James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) were married in Toledo, Ohio. The couple received the license and were wed on the same day, a Wednesday.

Curious about the officiant, whose name is circled in the image at top, I searched online for more background. Reverend William Cyprian Hopkins, 1834-1910, was born in Burlington, Vermont, a son of the state's first Episcopal Bishop. After college, he earned a Doctor of Divinity degree and became rector of a church in Vermont until being commissioned as a chaplain in the Union Army during the US Civil War, serving with the 7th Vermont Infantry. 

Later, Rev. Hopkins became rector for churches in Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. In 1898, he married hubby's grandparents while at St. Paul's Church of Toledo, Ohio. 

Because Rev. Hopkins was from a prominent Vermont family, he and his family appear in a wide variety of sources.

At left, a news clipping from the New York Journal newspaper of January 23, 1899, from the US Library of Congress website. It described the will of Charles Jerome Hopkins, a talented yet eccentric and prolific composer. 

The composer left his estate to his brother, Reverend Hopkins, with the exception of his music, which was left to his nieces in Chicago.

Happy almost anniversary to my husband's grandparents, never forgotten.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Voter Records Reflect Tight-Knit Family


My Mahler ancestors (on my Dad's side) and in-law families often lived near each other, I can see from the 1900 US Census and 1905 New York Census and going forward in time. 

These ancestors (some immigrants, some the first generation born in America) were enthusiastic about exercising their right to vote. Since the voter lists are arranged by address, this is a great opportunity to explore the tight-knit connections between Mahler siblings and spouses in the 1920s.

At top, an excerpt from the 1924 Voter List for the apartment house at 2347 Morris Avenue in the Bronx, New York.

In the first blue oval is the name of my great uncle Joseph A. Markell, who was married to my great aunt Mary Mahler in 1921. Mary is on the voter list, but a bit further down. 

Also in the first oval is the name of my great uncle Morris Mahler, who for many years was the main support of his mother (my paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk) and his younger sister Dora Mahler, who had a chronic health condition that limited her ability to work.

In the next blue oval is my great uncle Louis Volk, who married my great aunt Ida Mahler in 1920. Ida's name appears a bit further down on the the third blue oval, where her sister Mary shows up.

In the final blue oval at bottom of the list is my great aunt Dora Mahler, who did NOT live at 2348 Morris Avenue. She actually lived in the same building as her Mahler siblings, specifically in the apartment with her older brother Morris. 

The 2348 address on this voter list is a typo, pure and simple. Dora never married, and a chronic health condition limited her ability to work--so she tended to live with her brother or her mother.

I can be certain that Dora's address was 2347 Morris Avenue because she was enumerated at that residence in the household of her brother Morris in 1925, when the New York Census was taken. In the next apartment at that address was Ida Mahler Volk and Louis Volk, along with their first-born child.

Family stories confirm that the Mahler sisters in particular were quite close, and their spouses got along famously. Even when they moved further away, they were in touch and their hearts remained close. 

"Exploration" is this week's #52Ancestors theme from Amy Johnson Crow. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Book Review: "Ancestry" by Simon Mawer

Anyone who has discovered conflicting or confusing genealogical records will appreciate the difficulty of constructing a plausible narrative to explain what was happening during a certain period in an ancestor's life. 

Famed novelist Simon Mawer had a variety of real-life genealogical documents in hand, plus old family photos, when he wrote his latest book, Ancestry, a blend of historical fiction and biographical fiction loosely based on his family tree. The records didn't tell one cohesive story--instead, they revealed tantalizing clues to underlying dynamics that shaped ancestors' decisions and actions from the early 1800s toward the end of the 19th century.

Flesh and blood ancestors

Mawer's interest, readers learn in the preface on page 1, is in trying to understand who these ancestors really were: "Where is the flesh and blood? Who were the people? What did they feel? Where have they gone?" Being a novelist, he used fiction as a way to explore what key ancestors thought and did during their lives, sometimes offering more than one possible explanation to fit the known facts.

In the first section, the main characters are his great-great-grandparents Abraham Block (who goes to sea and winds up missing) and Naomi Lulham (a naive seamstress striving for a better life). Mawer describes Abraham's seafaring life and Naomi's challenges at home with great attention to social and historical context, imagining their inner lives with fictional creativity.

The author quickly ties up genealogical loose ends by summarizing what happened to the descendants of these ancestors in just three pages. Having followed the fictionalized trials and tribulations of Abraham and Naomi for a number of chapters, I wished for a little more detail (factual too) about later generations.

In the second section, readers meet the author's military ancestor George Mawer and his Irish bride Ann Scanlon, who bunks with her husband in the barracks as his regiment is posted thither and yon. Again, Mawer combines solid research and creative imagination to describe what both ancestors will face, physically and emotionally, during George's military career leading up to the Crimean War, which will change the family tree forever.

Documentation combined with imagination

As a genealogy buff, my favorite parts of the book were the reproductions of the actual documents, with Mawer's interpretation of what was officially said and what was not reflected on the documents. Such as the name of a baby's father, a fact obscured on more than official birth record. I also appreciated the way the author focused on particular details to convey the feeling of everyday life in the mid-1800s. 

The Guardian's reviewer was unhappy that actual documentation interrupted the fictional flow of the creative story line (the opposite of my experience). The reviewer for the The Spectator cited the author's ability to vividly paint historical details as a particular strength of this book (as was my experience). The Financial Times reviewer especially appreciated the way Mawer created female ancestors who were "anything but ordinary" on the page (I agree, although I don't necessarily agree with the motivations ascribed to these women by the author).

My last thought: If only Mawer had included a family tree! Even a very basic tree (protecting the privacy of recent generations) would have been helpful in following along as babies were born and grew up. 

Friday, September 2, 2022

Check Those County History Books!

My husband's Larimer ancestors intermarried with members of the Work, Short, and McKibbin families after they all came to America in the 1700s.

At first, the immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, and later they and their descendants moved westward in search of fresh farmland in Ohio, Indiana, and beyond.

I've been checking county history books for biographies of ancestors (or their relatives), and as historical and social context for life and times. Some books are digitized and available through Family Search, some through subscription-based genealogy sites, some through Internet Archive, some through Google Books, etc.

Above, the cover of "pictorial and biographical memoirs" covering two counties in Indiana. At right, the subtitle of this 1890s publication. 

Note that it focuses on "prominent men . . . both living and dead." Including my husband's Larimer and Work ancestors! Wives and children were frequently included in the bios.

I found this digitized copy on Ancestry and Google Books, but it may be available on other sites as well. It described Abel Work and as far back as his grandfather Samuel's background. Samuel Work's place of birth was listed as County Antrim, Ireland, and the book says he wed his wife in Ireland before all came to America, where their six children were born. Names, occupations, and more details!

Interestingly, the name of Sam's wife in the county history is different from the name of Sam's wife shown in the Work family history written by a descendant (digitally available on Family Search). 

More research is needed to follow up on this clue, but it's certainly possible this ancestor had two wives or that one of the histories had an error. I wouldn't have even known to investigate this possibility if I didn't research in the county history books as well as the published family history.

If you're researching US ancestors, be sure to check the lengthy list of digitized, freely available county histories for all 50 states, compiled (as a labor of love) by genealogy blogger extraordinaire Linda Stufflebean.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Lots of Space to Color in Ancestor Coloring Book

Late last year, a new twig became part of my family tree!

Now that this young one can almost hold a crayon, I created an updated ancestor and family coloring book especially for him.

In addition to showing his grandparents, great-grands, great-great grands, and great-great-great grands, I included contemporary photos of his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I've also begun adding a year to the caption when I know the date of an ancestor or family photo, as shown in this sample page.

There's lots of free space on the page and on the photo for the little one to creatively color or scribble.

It's fun and easy to make an ancestor coloring book!

To learn more, watch this brief how-to video I recorded with Jeanette Sheliga for the 4th anniversary of the Virtual Genealogical Association.

"Free space" is this week's genealogy prompt from Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Cousin Bait: Fish in Many Ponds

Trying to catch the eye of cousins who are searching online for mutual ancestors, I fish in as many ponds as possible. Anything I post as cousin bait works 24/7, waiting to be found when a possible cousin does a surname search or looks on a genealogy-related website for folks in the family tree.

Above, my Find a Grave memorial for Isaac Larimer Work with bite-sized bio (repurposed and posted to multiple sites when I researched hubby's US Civil War ancestors). Although I can't be 100% sure that Isaac is actually in Nashville National Cemetery, he's listed as being buried there in the US Civil War Roll of Honor (see title page here at right).

Isaac was my hubby's 1c4r. The Find a Grave page was cousin bait after being discovered last week by a descendant of this Union soldier's brother. The cousin contacted me via my Find a Grave profile and now we're exchanging family history photos and more. 

Also last week I was contacted by a 2c2r in my Burk/Mahler/Jacobs family tree, who found his grandfather on my Ancestry public tree. He has photos I've never seen, and I have photos he's never seen. We're sharing info and putting our heads together for further research!

To fish in many ponds, I have trees, memorials, photos, and/or bios on all of the following:

  • Find a Grave
  • Ancestry
  • My Heritage
  • WikiTree
  • Find My Past
  • Fold3
  • FamilySearch
  • Ancestor landing pages of this genealogy blog
It was a great week for genealogy last week, and September will be a terrific month for collaborating on research with these newfound cousins.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Celebrating My 14th Blogiversary


Fourteen years ago, I began this blog to write about my genealogy adventures and document my discoveries, challenges, do-overs, and brick walls. 

A good number of the nearly 1,600 posts have been about my own family history research and some interesting, puzzling, or revealing findings. I'm truly grateful for the reader comments that have offered fresh ideas and even solved a few mysteries!

Many posts focus on methodology, explaining what I've tried and how well it worked (or not), such as my recent series on accessing and interpreting the 1950 US Census. From time to time, I've also written about family-history concerns such as privacy and family secrets. 

Happily, this blog has been excellent for cousin bait. I've been overjoyed to hear from cousins (mine and hubby's) who get in touch via my blog!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear relatives and dear readers, for being along on this journey. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

When Rose Gained, Lost, and Regained US Citizenship


Rose Fishman Poticha (1896-1967) married into a distant branch of my father's family. I was researching her because I wondered whether her family lived near my father's ancestors before all came to America early in the 20th century.

Looking at the timeline of her life, I discovered she was caught up in that unfortunate period when women who married non-US citizens lost their own US citizenship.

Background: the Expatriation Act of 1907

On March 2, 1907, Congress passed the Expatriation Act, which stated that "any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband." 

This applied only to fact, men didn't lose their US citizenship if they married a woman who was not a US citizen. (For a more detailed explanation, see the pdf here.)

Note that this act didn't cover just US-born women. Also women who were naturalized US citizens automatically became non-citizens when they married a foreigner. And that's where Rose's story comes into play.

Naturalized under her father's naturalization

Rose Fishman was born in Radomyshl, at the time part of Russia (now part of Ukraine). Her parents, Sam and Bertha Fishman, brought the family to America early in the 20th century. 

Sam Fishman quickly initiated the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, and he was naturalized in February of 1914. Under the citizenship rules of that time, his daughter Rose became a U.S. citizen as well.

Rose loses her citizenship by marrying a non-citizen

Two years later, Rose married Russian-born Harry Poticha, on February 6, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Under the Expatriation Act, Rose lost her US citizenship because her husband was not a US citizen. 

Years later, Harry Poticha did become a naturalized US citizen. But meanwhile, Rose's citizenship situation was addressed by yet another act of Congress.

Background: The Cable Act

Women gained the right to vote in America starting in 1920, and perhaps that contributed to the pressure to change the messy citizenship situation created by the Expatriation Act of 1907.

Representative John Cable introduced the Cable Act of 1922, which was also called (appropriately enough) the Married Women's Independent Nationality Act

Under the Cable Act, women retained their US citizenship if they married a foreign-born man who was eligible for US citizenship, even if not yet a citizen and even if he ultimately didn't naturalize. Women's nationality was somewhat, as the act's title indicates, independent of their spouses' nationality. 

I'm oversimplifying the explanation and terms of this act, but you get the idea. IMHO, I doubt every woman affected by the Expatriation Act was aware she'd lost her US citizenship, just as I suspect these women weren't always sure how to regain their US citizenship. 

Rose regains her citizenship

Decades after Rose lost her US citizenship by marrying Harry Poticha, she petitioned to become a US citizen on her own.

As this image shows, she regained US citizenship on November 16, 1942, 26 years after losing it due to her marriage to someone not a US citizen.

Not unique in my family tree

Rose's situation was NOT unique in my family tree. I had a number of US-born female ancestors who lost their US citizenship when they married men who were not US citizens. But Rose is the only one I've noticed who was first naturalized, then lost her US citizenship by marrying a foreign-born man, then applied for naturalization on her own.

"Timeline" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

In Memory of Harold D. Burk, World War II Vet and Travel Agent

My Dad, Harold David Burk, was born on September 29, 1909, and died on August 18, 1978, sadly just weeks before his 69th birthday. In loving memory of Dad's life, I'm posting his bite-sized bio here (in addition to posts on Find a Grave, Fold3, Ancestry, and other sites). 

Harry was born in New York City, the second child of Lithuanian-born immigrant Isaac Burk (1882-1943) and Latvian-born immigrant Henrietta
Burk (1881-1954) [source: NYC birth cert].

Growing up, his ambition was to be a travel agent. He spent years learning the travel industry from the ground up in Manhattan, waiting for his big break to become a full-fledged agent.

During World War II, Harry interrupted his career to enlist in the U.S. Army on March 7, 1942 and was discharged on October 4, 1945 [source: Dept. of Veterans Affairs BIRLS death file]. His younger brother Sidney B. Burk (1914-1995) also enlisted and served during WWII. In this photo from the war years, Harry is at left and Sidney at right.

Because Harry had good typing skills, he served as a personnel clerk, Technician 5th grade, in the 3163d Signal Service Company of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His official designation was Administrative NCO 502 [source: DD-214 discharge papers]. His unit served in Central Europe and Rhineland, maintaining communication lines in support of Allied military efforts [source: DD-214]. Toward the end of the war, Harry and his unit were stationed near Paris, in April 1945.

After his honorable discharge, Harry returned home and married Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) on November 24, 1946, in New York City [source: NYC marriage cert]. They settled in the Bronx, New York, and raised three children. He founded a successful travel agency, Burk Travel Service, working with his brother in their lobby office at the luxurious Manhattan hotel, the Savoy Plaza [source: business documents].

Harry reluctantly retired after the hotel was torn down in 1965 to make way for construction of the General Motors Building. He died of a heart attack on August 18, 1978 in the Bronx, New York, and is buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, NY [source: NYC death cert].

Remembering Dad and missing him today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Free Ancestor Memorial Pages on Fold3

I'm in the process of setting up or beefing up memorial pages on (owned by Ancestry) for ancestors who were military veterans. Memorial pages can be created for non-veterans--even for special events or organizations--but because Fold3 is heavily focused on military records, I'm prioritizing memorials for ancestors who had military service.

At top is a photo showing thumbnails of the 12 memorial pages I've created for vets in my family tree and my husband's family tree. Some were from the US, some from England, some from Canada. Some served in the US Civil War, some in World War I, some in World War II. But now all are searchable and findable on Fold3!

You don't have to be a Fold3 subscriber--just register for a free account. This will allow you to set up memorials, add bite-sized bios, and upload photos. 

But remember, you won't be able to conduct extensive research unless you subscribe, with the exception of using more than 200 free Fold3 databases.

Fold3 may have already given you a head start by creating a memorial page with your ancestor's name and, possibly, some details about his or her service. I discovered a few of my ancestors already had a memorial page with bare-bones about military service. Then I added a bite-sized bio, photos, etc. 

To start, register for a free account and then go to the "training center" page where you can learn more about memorials. From Stories Behind the Stars, here's a brief video that shows, step by step, how to create a new memorial. 

Just another way to keep our ancestors alive by sharing info on multiple sites.

This is my post for Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge, following this week's theme of service.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Hidden in Plain Sight

Indexes and transcriptions don't tell the complete story of what's contained in a document. 

The actual document scan often includes interesting details that put a different light on an ancestor's life--hidden in plain sight, available only by looking at the image!

Draft registration reveals unusual occupation

In researching Charles Train Caldwell (1877-1929), my husband's 2c2r, I took a look at the scan of his WWI draft registration card. I can't remember ever seeing one typed before, which caught my eye.

What also caught my eye was the occupation: "prisoner."

Plus this man's signature, which looks as though he can barely write. All of these small clues helped me get a better sense of his life--and motivated me to dig deeper for more information.

Charles had married in 1901 and was the father of two sons. By 1910, he and his wife had divorced. When and why he wound up in prison by the time he was registered for military service in 1918, I don't yet know.

Civil war registration reveals physical condition

Charles's father was Sanford Caldwell (1843-1922). His US Civil War militia registration is on the last line of the above excerpt from an Indiana ledger book.

He's 19 years old, a farmer by occupation, and in the remarks column is a notation about his health: "diseased lungs, ex."

In other words, Sanford was exempt from service because of some sort of problem with his lungs. 

This detail was hidden in plain sight, visible only if I looked at the document rather than simply accepting the basic facts from the transcription.

Sanford's lung problem didn't prevent him from farming, marrying, having children, and living until the age of 79, by the way.

Always look at the original document if the image is available! 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Mother-Daughter Autograph Books

On this Sentimental Sunday, I'm looking at autograph books from family history.

Nearly 90 years ago, my mother (Daisy Ruth Schwartz, 1919-1981) graduated from junior high school (which was then grades 7, 8, and 9). 

She was 13 years old and moving up to high school for grades 10, 11, and 12.

Mom kept her graduation autograph book in great shape! 

As shown above, she wrote her name, the school number (J.H.S. 60 in the Bronx, New York), the principal's name (Anna V. McCarthy), her graduating teacher (Miss Hammond), and the date of graduation (January 31, 1933). 

A January graduation was the norm then. Mom graduated from high school three years later, in January of 1936.

At right, a page from Mom's autograph book, with a cute rhyme that was still in use decades later. "There are all kinds of ships, wooden ships, and steel ships, but the best ship is friendship." Signed, "your sister grad-u-8, Anna Kratzer." I've been able to find many of these classmates in Mom's high school yearbook, as well.

Although I attended school decades after Mom, my autograph book from grade 6 graduation also included signatures and inscriptions from classmates, some sentimental and some funny. I attended PS 103 in the northern Bronx, NY.

At left, one of my best friends included an affectionate notation based on 2+2=4. This same "equation" appears at least three times in my autograph book!

Another inscription used more than once in my autograph book is..."For dirty people only." Turn the page, and the inscription continues: "Use soap! Happy graduation from ...." (no LOL or emoticons of course)

Best of all, these handwritten messages from the 20th century are well preserved in an archival box and will live on through the 21st century. If future generations can still read basic cursive handwriting, they'll be able to decipher the messages!

This is my post for the September 2022 School Days "Genealogy Blog Party."

Monday, August 1, 2022

Back Up Your Cousin Connections Too

The first of every month is backup day--to be sure my genealogy documents, notes, digitized photos, and everything are kept safe in more than one place. LOCKSS: Lots of copies keep stuff safe.

In addition to automated backups to the cloud every day, I have multiple hard drives with backups, just in case. What about backing up my cousin contacts? For that I created a simple cousin connections document.

As shown in the sample at top, my connections format has three columns: (1) name/relationship, maiden name and/or nickname, (2) all contact info, including social media; and (3) notes, such as clarifying who the person is and when I last was in touch. 

This week, after I spoke with one of my cousins, I jotted a note that we had a conversation, and wrote down the update month/day/year.

For my hubby's cousin connection form, I added the email of a cousin I'm now corresponding with about mutual ancestors. Also noted the update month/day/year.

Both forms are now freshly printed and tucked into my address book as well as in a surname file or two. These forms will refresh my memory and will be useful to the next generation after I join my ancestors in the far future.

And both forms are digitally backed up to my hard drives and in the cloud!

-- Tips from my popular genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in ebook and soft cover from Amazon USAmazon UK and Amazon Canada.   Also available in soft cover from the bookstore and the Newberry Library bookstore!

Thank you to Tamie Dehler, who reported on my book with a glowing review in the July 30th issue of the Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, IN.