Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Finding a Home for My WAC Aunt's Materials

My mother's twin sister, Dorothy H. Schwartz (1919-2001), enlisted as a WAC during WWII, just months after graduating from Hunter College in New York City. She had a distinguished military career and was transformed by her wartime experiences.

My family has long held a small collection of Auntie Dorothy's WAC documents and photos, plus a copy of the book she wrote as historian of her WAC unit.

My Sis and I wanted this collection to be in safe hands for the future, in a repository that can archive the documents and put her military service in context for future generations. The search was on.

Finding an Appropriate Repository

An online search of key terms "WAC museum" brought me to the website of the U.S. Army Women's Museum, located south of Richmond in Fort Lee, VA. As shown above, I located the "contact" page and there was specific information about how to proceed with a request to donate materials.

I sent a detailed email describing what my family has to donate, with background about my aunt's military experience. Of course I mentioned her Bronze Star Medal!

Preparing to Donate to the Museum

It didn't take long for the museum to respond. It is not accepting uniforms or medals (we have neither) but it would be delighted to accept documents and photographs in good condition.

The museum sent a four-page document formatted to help Sis and me provide biographical details and military details about my aunt. We filled in her rank, places she was stationed, campaigns supported by her WAC unit, and excerpts from a letter she wrote about having the opportunity to serve her country as the "woman behind the man behind the gun."

Also, we wrote a solid page summarizing Dorothy's life, from her birth date and parents' names to the schools she attended, her doctorate in education, and her post-war career as a New York City school teacher. We also mentioned her emphasis on social justice in her interests and activities after she retired.

Finally, we listed the contents of the collection so the museum can see exactly what is being donated (see above). Of course everything was scanned at high resolution before the donation was made.

Long after Sis and I join our ancestors, Dorothy Schwartz's bio and WAC materials will be available to researchers because they're safely in the museum's archives!

Keeping Dorothy Schwartz's Memory Alive in the Museum

As is usual, the museum requested that we send the collection and a printout of the bio pages via a shipping company that can track every movement of the package. We packed it securely in a padded envelope, including a cover note detailing the contents, and sent it on Monday.

The museum told me it will confirm receipt as soon as the package arrives (just heard the shipment arrived safely). Soon afterward, Sis and I will receive a formal acknowledgement of our donation.

Best of all, we have the satisfaction of knowing we're keeping Dorothy Schwartz's memory alive among the WAC artifacts held by the US Army Women's Museum.
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For more about finding a suitable home for ancestors' materials, please see my best-selling #Genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Genealogy Clues Add Context for Family Photos

Daisy Schwartz (#1) and some of her Farkas first cousins, 1935
Continuing my scanfest in 2019, I recently teamed up with Cousin A, a Farkas 2d cousin, for a wonderful few hours of identifying genealogy photos and sharing stories. (FYI, Farkas was my mother's mother's maiden name. We had a family tree association from 1933-1964, with monthly minutes in print!)

Cousin A and I showed each other our mystery photos, and we made a bit of headway. I was impressed that he so carefully preserved the photos he inherited by moving them from those old black crumbling albums to new archival albums. He also wrote captions on the album pages, based on what was on the back of each photo or what he had learned from other family members. What a treasure trove!

Farkas Family Tree Photo, 1935

Among the photos he allowed me to scan was the one at top, marked "Summer, 1935." It was a Farkas Family Tree summer outing, one of two mentioned in the meeting minutes from 1935. Cousin A's aunt had already identified everyone in the photo, so I simply numbered the people, created a name key, and put it all into a .pdf file to distribute to more cousins.

My mother (Daisy Schwartz, 1919-1981) is #1 in the photo, which was taken the summer before her high school graduation. The rest of the folks in this photo are her Farkas first cousins. All except #9, who is not a Farkas cousin but a girl named Carol, a cousin of a cousin.

After five minutes on Ancestry, I was able to add her to the tree with the correct parents. There she was in the 1930 Census, age shown as 1/12 months. That corresponds to her actual birth date in March, 1930. I confirmed with a family member that this is indeed his cousin Carol. (The exact location of the outing remains a small mystery.)

Pelham Parkway Photos

What's interesting is that my few minutes of research into Carol's past solved another small photo mystery. Cousin A has a couple of 1930s/1940s photos marked "Pelham Parkway," which is a lovely area of the Bronx, New York. Nobody from my Farkas family lived there at the time, I know from Census and personal records. The photo shows a very rural area, as it was so many decades ago, not built up as it was when I lived in the area as a teenager.

When I looked up little Carol from the "Summer 1935" photo, I learned that her address in the Census of 1930 and the Census 1940 was--you guessed it!--on Pelham Parkway. Seems her cousins most likely visited her family and the photos memorialized that visit.

Context Adds to Family History

For me, the lesson is that the more we find out about every photo, the more clues we have to a well-rounded family history. "Who?" is not the only question. "Where? When? Why?" are also questions I try to answer. Answering more than one question adds valuable overall context for the photos and the family tree.

Decades ago, when these family photos were taken, a caption like "Pelham Parkway" instantly identified the significance of the place to the folks in the picture. But from our vantage point in the 21st century, the significance isn't apparent without a bit of added research.

Now you also know why my scanfest won't be complete when I've digitized my childhood photos. I also need to add the context that will make each photo understandable to future generations.

A tall order, to be sure, but if I start now, I can finish well before the release of the 1950 Census puts me into a new frenzy of genealogy research! (Hopefully before then.)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Paula & Etel Schwartz in Ungvar, Hungary
On this day of remembrance, I want to show photos of some ancestors of blessed memory who died in the Holocaust.

Schwartz Ancestors Died

Above, Etel and Paula Schwartz, two sisters of my maternal Grandpa Tivador (Teddy) Schwartz (1887-1965). Grandpa came to America from Ungvar, Hungary as a teenager and soon brought over one older brother (Sam/Simon Schwartz). Together, the brothers brought over a younger sister (Mary Schwartz).

Alas, their siblings all remained in Hungary, including Etel and Paula, and were killed in the Holocaust. This confirmation comes from Paula's daughter, who lived through the Holocaust and recorded testimony of their early life and harrowing, horrifying wartime experiences.

A Burk ancestor
who lived in Gargzdai, Lithuania

Looking for Birk Ancestors 

Above is a photo of a young man I believe to be the youngest brother of my paternal Grandpa Isaac Burk (1882?-1943). Around 1900, Isaac and his older brother Abraham left for Manchester, England, to stay with relatives and then continue to North America. Their sisters Nellie Block and Jennie Birk, along with brother Motel (Max) Birk, also came to the United States.

It seems this younger brother stayed behind at home in Gargzdai, Lithuania, and most likely he and/or his descendants were killed in the Holocaust. So far, I've found no proof, or even a hint of his whereabouts after his siblings left, but I'll keep looking.

It is my honor to keep their memories alive for future generations. Never forget.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Genealogy Blog as Cousin Bait

Hubby's ancestor Benjamin McClure was a 19th-century civic leader in Wabash, Indiana
Last Sunday, I watched a very interesting live webinar by Tammy Hepps, "Technology for Cousin Bait That Works." Tammy's main point: Cousins and genealogy researchers can't find us if our content (written and/or illustration) doesn't appear in the first page or two of search results.

And lucky for me, Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party this month is all about tuning up our blogs. She has links to lots of ways to test blogs, analyze search rankings, and improve the look and content of our blogs.

Here's what I did to I tune up my blog as cousin bait.

Search Like a Cousin

What, exactly, will attract a cousin? One 2d cousin found my blog because I had written about a synagogue where our ancestors were married. When she did an online search to learn more about that synagogue, my blog post ranked high in the results. She clicked to read more...and, happily for me and my family, she contacted me! One of my friends occasionally receives inquiries from people who find her blog because she posted about an orphanage where her ancestors were placed.

To search like a cousin, think like a cousin. Try searches using key words that might attract our cousins, including surnames and related key words. So far, I have been pleased with the results rankings.

Blogger already allows me to assign "labels" (key words) for each blog entry (such as a surname or a topic). I also list key words in my blog's description, and have changed these over time. Since I can't always predict what a cousin will look for, I go beyond surnames to include religious institutions, places, and so forth.

Surnames and Easy Contact

You can see the main surnames I'm researching along the right side of my blog.  Plus along the top of my blog, I have a series of "landing pages" for main surnames and the stories of those ancestors or families. I want these to be visible and I want cousins to know I welcome contact, as Tammy suggested.

In the past couple of years, I added a contact gadget just above the surname listing. Currently, I receive 1-2 inquiries every month. Not everyone who uses the contact gadget turns out to be a cousin, but I still appreciate that they make the effort to get in touch.

Blog Tune Up: Subheads and Captions

Yet another place to insert key words, Tammy noted, is in subheads of blog posts. Who knew? So now I'm tuning up my blog to add subheads, an easy tweak that might boost a post's rankings in search results when cousins go looking for their FAN club. Also, I'm going back to writing captions that include surnames and other key words, such as shown at top.

Finally, blog content must look good on mobile devices, an important criterion used by search engines. Mine looks fine on a small screen, according to the preview in my Blogger dashboard.

If you're reading this on your phone or pad, doesn't Benjamin McClure (1812-1896) look like a determined pioneer farmer and respectable civic leader?!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Imagining Breakfast with Bela Roth


Imagine if I could enjoy a delicious bagel for breakfast with Bela Bernath Roth (1860-1941). Bela is an in-law ancestor whose first wife was Zolli Sarah Kunstler Roth (d. 1893). Zolli was my great-grandma's sister.


Bela was born in Vasarosnameny, Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, Hungary. Interestingly, due to clerical delays, his birth wasn't officially recorded until oh, well, actually 1889. There he is in the Hungarian records, above. Perhaps this was the year he married Zolli Kunstler?

They had three children together (Margaret, Alexander, and Joseph). Zolli died young in the 1890s. By 1901 or so, Bela had remarried, to a teenaged Bertha Batia Weiss (1885-1967). Bela and Bertha had three sons together and raised the other three children from Bela's first marriage.

Why Breakfast with Bela?

Why not wish to meet one of Bela's wives or children? Bela is a very important link between the Farkas family of my maternal Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz and the Kunstler, Roth, Weiss, and Wajman cousins I've found through genealogy. He was present in the Old World where the Farkas family lived and also in New York City, where he was definitely in touch with Grandma and her family. Bela died long before I was born, but he knew several generations of my family tree.

In fact, Bela was affectionately known as "Bela Basci" ("Uncle Bela") because he was the uncle, by marriage, of my Grandma Hermina and her siblings. Given his long life, residence on two continents, and the many branches of the family he knew personally, I have three questions I want to ask as we breakfast together.

Questions for Bela About Roth, Kunstler, Weiss, Wajman, and Farkas
  1. How did you meet your first wife, Zolli? I know that Zolli's mother's name was "Toby Roth" so I wondered whether she was related to you in some way?
  2. Why did was one of your sons named Joseph Roth, knowing that there were other Josephs in the Roth family?? Obviously, you and Zolli were honoring an ancestor by choosing this name. But I want you to know this created a mess of trouble for future genealogists. So now you have to explain how each of the three Joseph Roths is related to each other and to you and me. Please. I'll order us both a second cup of decaf while you explain.
  3. Was your second wife, Batia Bertha Weiss, a cousin? If so, please tell me how she was related to you (and to me)! Better yet, let's draw a tree together, showing how Farkas, Kunstler, Roth, Weiss, and Wajman relatives were related. Thanks, Bela Basci.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WorldCat Search Tip: Author and Title

My aunt was a WAC during WWII and also the historian of her unit. I have a water-damaged copy of the book* she wrote, passed down in the family for decades. Still, I wanted to read an undamaged copy to be sure I had all the details correct.

Searching WorldCat

Off to WorldCat to search, I entered her name as author. I quickly discovered that a library not far away had a copy in the reference department. My librarian arranged an inter-library loan! I photographed key pages that are not in good condition in my personal copy, and returned the book with a thank-you to my library and another thank-you to the other library.

However, if I had searched using the title of the book, as well as the author, WorldCat would have shown me the above results. Notice the arrow, pointing to the ebook available with a single click?!

Yes, WorldCat included HathiTrust Digital Library in its search results, and there, for all the world to read (and/or download), is my aunt's History of the WAC Detachment, 9th Air Division, Sept 1942-Sept 1945. Professionally digitized and in great condition. Here's a link to the book.

Today's Search Tip

So today's tip is: remember to search WorldCat by author and title. Even if you know the author, as I did, be sure to search by title to see slightly different search results, including ebooks that may not pop up in an author-only search.

* These WAC histories were written and privately printed, paid for by members of the WAC detachments who chose to order a copy--in advance. My aunt purchased several copies, for family and for her good friend in the British intelligence service, a woman she met during her harrowing trans-Atlantic crossing in the midst of German sub threats.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Clicking, Not Cranking, to Read Unindexed Records

Temperature this morning was minus 3. On a day like this, I'm feeling grateful not to have to leave the house to crank through microfilm as I search through unindexed records.


Happily, the records I'm searching are a click away on FamilySearch.org. Not long ago, I attended a talk about researching in Hungary, where my maternal grandparents were from. The speaker reminded us that we can click through unindexed census records on FamilySearch at our leisure.

Tips from the Family Search Wiki



The FamilySearch wiki pages about Hungary provide a handy key to help researchers interpret what each census column is about (see above). Now I can spot where the family name would be listed, the columns for age, place of birth, and so on. This helps me speed-click through the 600-odd unindexed pages.

At top, the first page in this series that I'm searching, looking for the Schwartz family in Ungvar, in Ung county. Notice that in the page at top, the very first family (not in Ungvar) is Schwartz. I expect to see a lot of Schwartz entries scattered in Hungary. The real trick is to click and locate MY Schwartz family.

One of the good things coming out of this page-by-page search is more familiarity with surnames and given names of that time and place. And I'm getting better at reading different handwritings from that time and place.

In Search of Great-Grandpa Herman Schwartz

A-clicking I will go, in search of my great-grandpa's family, the parents of Herman Schwartz. Herman should be in the census as a child, although his name may be different, perhaps Hershel or Hirsch instead of Herman. It takes a lot more time to look through one page at a time, but it will be worth it if Herman and his family are there. And it's clicking, not cranking, already easier than it would have been just a few years ago.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Traditional and Patriotic Names in the Tree

My husband's family tree has lots and lots of traditional given names plus a few clearly patriotic names.

Among the most popular names on the tree is Thomas (there are 41 in the tree so far). Above, the 1860 Census record from Cabell county, VA (now Huntington, WV) showing Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890) and his son Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood (1848-1861). Sadly, young Thomas drowned before he turned 13 years old.

Young Thomas was born on the 4th of July, 1848. That was 22 years after President Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th of July, 1826. Perhaps that was one reason he was named after this president? The Wood tree contains only one other "Jefferson" given name, and he was born late in the 20th century.

Last year, I wrote about the 139 times John appears in this tree. Other popular male names on the tree are: Robert (43 instances), Charles (39 instances), and Samuel (21 instances).

On the female side, after the ever-popular Mary (121 instances), the most popular are: Elizabeth (54 instances), Ann/Anne/Anna (36 instances), and Margaret (35 instances).

My husband's family has a number of other patriotic-sounding names, including:
Benjamin Franklin Steiner, Benjamin Franklin Smith, and George Washington Howland.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "unusual names."

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Targeted Search on HeritageQuest


HeritageQuest, "powered by Ancestry," has a lot to recommend it to genealogy researchers at all levels. Most libraries offer HQ as part of the free ProQuest databases available for access to cardholders, in the library or from home. It is so convenient to fire up my laptop at any hour, log into HQ using my library card number, and search whenever I wish! Did I mention it's FREE?

At top, a brief list of what you can find from the search page on HQ. The site is uncomplicated and easy to navigate. Anyone who's ever used Ancestry will find the search interface familiar. Even if you've never used Ancestry, it will take about five seconds to figure out the HQ search forms. And remember, this is FREE.


What I find especially helpful is that HQ offers quick access to targeted genealogy databases without digging down through catalog listings. This is how I get the most out of Heritage Quest, by searching only one database or set of records at a time to narrow the results to the more likely possibilities.

Here's an example: I wanted to look for one of my husband's ancestors who I believed had served in the Civil War. He died in 1924, so I decided to search in the 1890 Veterans' Schedule. Yes, this special schedule did survive, even if nearly nothing else from that 1890 US Census survived! So not only will I find out whether this guy served in the war, I'll also find out when--and get his 1890 location as an important bonus.


I plugged in his full name (Benjamin Franklin Steiner), date/place of death, and added his wife's name. It wasn't necessary to have all those elements, but it helps narrow my search, at least in the beginning.

In fact, only a few results popped up--but one was exactly what I needed. 

The schedule lists Benjamin F. Steiner, living in Oceola, Ohio, in 1890. He served as a private in Company L, 10th Ohio Cavalry, from 1862 to 1865.

The "remarks" section had nothing about him, although others were noted as being disabled due to various ailments. But now I know he was in Oceola in 1890, and I can look for city directories, newspaper stories, and other sources of additional information from that time and place.

FREE, easy to use, loaded with valuable databases--lots to like on HeritageQuest!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Scan-A-Thon 2019: Photos Tell Family History Stories

During this weekend's big Scan-A-Thon (thank you to #WikiTree and #GeneabloggersTRIBE), I'm continuing my scanning of photos from my childhood and into the recent past.

Each picture tells a story. I'm planning to not only name names, but also identify dates and places, and explain the occasions and possessions that add to #familyhistory.

This photo just scanned is a good case in point. If you recognize that cute-ugly doll being hugged by this little girl, you'll know the approximate year.

Yes, it's the early 1980s.

The actual year is 1983. It's a year I won't forget, because local stores were sold out of Cabbage Patch Dolls, and shipments were few and far between. Yet two young relatives were longing, longing for those dolls. After family members scoured toy stores and added their names to waiting lists, I pursued plan B.

At the time, I worked for a retail industry group with ties to big department stores. I called my contacts to ask whether anyone could help me put my hands on two dolls (regardless of price). Nobody had anything in stock, but they said they'd keep me in mind. So I waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually, an exec called and told me I could buy two dolls (!) at the regular price ($30 each) if I came to the store at the instant it opened the next morning.

Bright and early, he met me at the cash register with two dolls, already in a bag so other shoppers wouldn't know that I was buying just before the shelves were stocked that day. I happily forked over the cash and thanked him profusely, grateful to have not just one but two dolls. Sis and I wrapped and hid those dolls until holiday time.

You can see by the photo how well loved this Cabbage Patch Doll was! Even after the fad faded, the girls had fond memories of these dolls. Now they can relive the memory whenever they see this photo.

Also in the photo are crewel embroidery projects made by moi and gifted to this family. Although a small part of the story of this photo, crafts are an ongoing theme in my family. My maternal grandma was a master of embroidery and crochet. My Mom loved to crochet, she did petit point, and tried her hand at decoupage.

My sisters and I were all taught to crochet and sew at an early age. Sis was an ace seamstress, making her own stylish clothes. I quilt. We still enjoy crafting, and all members of the next generation enjoy crafts, as well.

By telling the story of these old photos, we can show the younger folks how many connections they have to their ancestors. In this case, it's a love of hand-crafts. And the memory of chasing after the toy of the moment for two much-loved little girls.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Scan-a-Thon 2019 - Making Progress!

Today is the first day of the "official" Scan-a-Thon 2019, held by WikiTree in coordination with GeneabloggersTribe and other #genealogy groups.

It's a fun opportunity to be part of a worldwide community scanning photos (and documents), posting to online trees, and/or sharing with family. You still have time to get in on the fun by scanning Friday through Sunday (and beyond).

I actually began scanning family photos last weekend, sorting and discussing with my sister. We will continue intermittently through 2019. So many photos bring back so many memories, and it's wonderful to have company and conversation while scanning. Making progress!

Today I wanted to describe the process in a little more detail. Even though I'm using a Flip-Pal, which makes it convenient to quickly scan snapshots from the past, there are a few steps needed to go from scan to finished image ready for the family tree or family sharing. (I do not post photos of living people, by the way, so these particular scans are intended for family sharing--a great way to preserve the past for future generations.)

After scanning, I pull the SD card from the Flip-Pal and load the images into my Mac-based photo management program. (Note: I use Picasa3, no longer supported by Google, although it may still be available. I'm not ready to change yet, because Picasa serves my needs quite well, but at least workarounds and alternatives exist if needed in the future.)

Sis and I completed 181 scans, including the full image of a snapshot from this batch shown at top. Note that because the snapshot is smaller than the full Flip-Pal scanning window, white background shows behind the photo. (I added the blue border digitally to clarify where the photo itself ends and the Flip-Pal background begins.)

My next step is to open each scanned image and crop out the white background, as shown just above.

Over time, snapshots fade, some colors can change...and if I can restore them without making material changes, that's what I prefer to do.

So after cropping, I decide whether to alter the colors, contrast, sharpness, etc. Neither of the above photo scans has been altered.

Now compare with the slightly brightened photo at left, where the sand is lighter so the kiddie stands out a bit better. Yes, I altered the sand's coloring a smidge, but I didn't change what the image shows.

Some people prefer to scan and leave the scanned image like the original. Me, I want my image to be more like the original original. In other words, I try to be fairly faithful to what the snapshot was like at the time it was taken. If the snapshot was originally too dark, I lighten it a teensy bit so the person or place is viewable. If things are slightly blurry, I try to sharpen the image. (I don't put people in or take people out. That's where I draw the line!)

Scanning and cropping, plus color or contrast correction, are not the end of the process. Next step is to caption each image. A picture is worth a thousand words, but I'll be much more succinct in my captioning ;)

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Power of Hands-On Family History Experiences

At a family holiday luncheon, my husband and I tried something new: We passed around an unopened MRE ("meal ready to eat") from 1986.

We slit it open to reveal individually wrapped packages of turkey, hash brown potatoes, giant cookie, crackers, hot cocoa mix, instant coffee, sugar, salt, matches, even chewing gum. Then we opened a couple of the individual food packages and tasted a bite of cookie...a bite of cracker...and lived to tell the tale! The youngest relatives were especially captivated by handling and tasting packs of food that are way, way, way older than they are.

This hands-on experience sparked a long and fascinating group discussion about Army life in two different periods. The family member who served in the US Army in the mid-1980s had supplied the MRE, and he reminisced about eating the best (and worst) of these meals. He also told anecdotes about Army life, with just enough detail to keep the younger crowd engaged.

My husband had served in the Army three decades earlier, and he described eating C-rations in the field, adding a couple of his own brief anecdotes. The stark contrast between our 2018 holiday meal and the 1950s/1980s Army meals was an important part of the experience.

Everyone around the table listened intently and asked questions. Several eagerly tried their hand at opening a can using a P-38 opener kept after the 1980s Army days. (Hint: You need to literally "get a grip" to get this right.)

I came away with a real appreciation of the power of hands-on family history experiences. From now on, I'll look for additional opportunities to get relatives involved in handling an heirloom or something else key to a family event or an ancestor memory. With luck, the stories will flow as hands touch the object, and family history will be passed down to more descendants! And isn't that the point?

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For more ideas on safeguarding and sharing genealogy, please see my how-to book (in print or digital form), Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Challenge: Personal Family History Scanfest 2019

Let Personal Family History Scanfest 2019 begin! This is the year my family's "modern history" photos (meaning since I was born, LOL) will be scanned and digitally organized and distributed.

I'm approaching the scanfest challenge as a process, to be accomplished little by little during the year:

  1. Gather albums from multiple sources. [Plenty are on hand, more to be gathered.]
  2. Rough sort photos by family, year, and/or theme (vacation, Christmas, etc). [Started.]
  3. Discard damaged and irrelevant photos and negatives. [One bag tossed today--photos with rips or stains were scanned and will be digitally repaired.]
  4. Separate good dupes to send to family members. [Going into the mail Monday.]
  5. Extract photos carefully from those awful magnetic albums, preserving labels. [In process]
  6. Scan a hundred or more at a time. (I love my Flip-Pal, set at high resolution, for speed and convenience.) Where appropriate, include handwritten label of place/date next to first photo scanned in a series. [One day scanned total: 181 good images!]
  7. Keep scanned snapshots in order in a temporary storage box, ready to be checked and then stored in a safe way. [in process]
  8. Arrange digital images into digital folders (again, by family/year/season/theme, etc.) and make digital dupes on flash drives for family members.
  9. Create a few special photobooks with descriptive captions to send to family members.*
  10. Have fun during the process, reminiscing and double-checking identifications and dates/places with family. 

Doing this little by little makes the scanfest and genealogical organization a lot less overwhelming. I highly recommend scanning with a family member, not just for the conversations but also for the extra hands ready to work with photos. Having my Sis partner with me doubles the fun--the time really flies by!

Have you been scanning your baby photos and other photos from "modern" family history, to preserve them and have digital versions backing up the physical images?

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this second in the 2019 series of #52Ancestors prompts,  "challenge."

Special thanks to WikiTree for the Scan-a-Thon challenge, January 11-14, in coordination with GeneabloggersTribe.

Yes, I'm a bit early, but I'm also spreading my scanfest out over many weeks to share the fun with family!

*For privacy reasons, I will only upload selected photos of ancestors (not living people) to my online family trees.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Heirloom Story: My Parents' Bedroom Set

My parents, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) and Harold Burk (1909-1978), married on Thanksgiving weekend in 1946. They had gotten engaged on the last day of 1945, following a whirlwind courtship after being set up by his aunt (Mary Mahler Markell) and her aunt (Rose Farkas Freedman). Harold had returned from more than three years in the Army during WWII and wanted to settle down...Daisy wanted to marry and raise a family. Love blossomed!

Due to the post-war housing shortage, however, they had a long wait to find an apartment in New York City. They began married life in a basement apartment of a private home in Queens, more than an hour's subway ride away from their relatives in the Bronx. Daisy was most unhappy in this dark, cramped apartment, and they continued to look for something larger, something closer to family.

The Farkas Family Tree (my mother's family tree association) minutes from the meeting of May 2, 1948, includes a sentence in which my mother is quoted as saying to the "Good & Welfare Committee" that "for her good and welfare, she must find an apartment."

In the family tree minutes from June 13, 1948, the secretary says my parents "got a telephone but now want an apartment to put it into."

In the family tree minutes from October 10, 1948, my father is listed as having won at a "bazaar--a radio, meat slicer, Mixmaster, and several other things." But still not the apartment they truly wanted. By the end of 1948, no luck: "Daisy and Harry Burk are still looking."

Yippee! By March 6, 1949, my parents were reported to be in their new apartment, according to the Farkas Family Tree meeting minutes. This was on Carpenter Avenue in the northeast Bronx, corner of E. 222d Street. Not coincidentally, it was an apartment building in which my father's sister, brother, and mother were living. Surely that's how they heard of the vacancy of the apartment on the fourth floor of this building one block from a big park.

And the Farkas Family Tree minutes of June 5, 1949 crow: "Daisy & Harry Burk finally ordered furniture!!!" Yes, the exclamation points are in the original. It was now 2 1/2 years after their wedding.

At top, a photo of the high-boy bureau from this original mahogany bedroom set. The set was carefully crafted in the Bronx. I had it refinished in 1990, nearly 41 years after it was made, to restore it to its original beauty. The restorers admired the dovetail corners and the fine wood quality.

The high-boy, along with the vanity dresser and bench, hanging mirror, low bureau, and a night stand are in my bedroom, cherished family heirlooms that I use every day. Some lucky descendant will inherit this heirloom set, along with the story of how long Daisy and Harry fell in love, waited to marry, searched high and low for an apartment, ordered furniture, and then started their family.

PS: It's important to share our ancestors' stories now, before we join our ancestors! For more about safeguarding our family's past, please take a look at my affordable book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback or digital edition.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January Genealogy Off to a Strong Start

Happy 2019! 

As the new year begins, I have four projects in the works for completion by January.

Two are for my husband's Wood family and two are for my Farkas family.


Above, project #1: Integrating the index entries for 1940-1944 meetings of the Farkas Family Tree association meeting minutes into the full index for the years 1933-1964.

I had previously created the index for minutes, not able to include most of the WWII years because they were missing from my cousin's collection. Then in 2018, a 2d cousin found the missing minutes and I scanned them and indexed just that collection.

Now I'm adding the 1940s entries from the separate index person by person into the larger index for the entire book (shown here at right). It's not difficult, just takes a bit of time to copy and paste entries. Little by little, it's getting done.

**UPDATE on 1/10: Completed!

Project #2: Assembling the complete Farkas Family Tree index, complete minutes, and updated introductory materials into a digital file and mailing a CD to my cousins. The package is way, way too large for email, and some cousins aren't into cloud storage. CDs are easy to mail and easy for recipients to read, copy, and store.

**UPDATE on 1/118: Final file was 1.5 GB, too large for even 2 CDs, so I bought a multipack of 4GB flash drives to mail. All were received by cousins and this project is OFFICIALLY COMPLETE.


Project #3: Interleaving acid-free buffered tissue paper between pages of the 1917 and 1926 photo albums created by my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). This will protect the photos for the long term. Tissue paper is in the house, ready to go!

Project #4: Reading carefully through the full divorce file from my husband's paternal grandfather, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939).

As shown at left, James filed to divorce wife #2, Alice Hopperton Unger, in April 1927, just 7 months after their marriage in September, 1926.

She counter-filed a few days later. Back and forth they filed. Now, thanks to the Cuyahoga County Clerk's office, which very kindly mailed me copies of all the paperwork (without charge!), I can finally figure out what happened, 92 years after the fact.

And this is only January, the first month--what a genealogy year it will be.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52Ancestors prompt to begin the new year.