Family history research is so fascinating that it deserves to be shared. Here are one writer's musings and insights about making that process palatable and inviting to others.
27 June 2010
Still Sorting--What Did It Do?
Having never lived on a farm (particularly in the early 1900s), I'm not sure what this farm machinery did/does. Can anybody help me sort these out?
26 June 2010
Sorting Saturday--Sorting Photos and Documents
Can I be too thin, too rich or have too many photographs and documents about a particular ancestor? Maybe so, when it comes to writing and publishing a history. My sister and I are working on a history of my great-grandparents, James Johnson and Harriet E. Lamb right now (see photos). It's hard work. The text is written and had its first couple of edits. But over the years that I've been researching and sharing family history with my numerous Johnson cousins, I've gathered many many photos, documents, and clippings, as well as other miscellaneous ephemera about this family. How to sort it?
First, I like to name the electronic files with a system that does some preliminary sorting (when I'm consistent and know enough information about it). The system I use is name or initials 1st followed by DOC, PIX, EXT (research extract), LOG, OBIT, H&R (history or resource), NEWS, as applicable, then the date and a short description like place or occasion. That will automatically sort all the pictures, documents, clippings etc. by person, by kind of record, then by date.
Well that sounds good, but there are many exceptions that don't work with the system, and I've only used it for the last few years, leaving thousands of earlier files with other names. Not only that, I receive whole batches of "stuff" from other people that is not named in this manner. Sometimes it's easier to sort by where I received the files, as in Carol Brown collection or Bill Murri CD.
In writing a history, only the first few words of the file name are apparent as I look for something, so having them all say JohnsonJamesEtcEtc isn't that helpful to quickly grab the illustration I need. For this history, we came up with a solution that is working for us. We used the headings and subheadings of the text and generated a rough table of contents. Now we can look at the whole history at once and determine what should go where. It's a long history so I needed to break it up into smaller sections anyway, for easier reading. Having it in sections also has helped us to make sure everything flows, that what needs to be said is said and so we know where to put our illustrations.
Something I else I have to constantly remember is that everything I have doesn't have to be in this version of the history. I can use representative photos and other illustrations to help tell the story. I have to let go of my "all or nothing" thinking and say, "This is enough." We are including a CD with this history when we publish. The extras are going there. What methods do you use in dealing with too many illustrations for a history?
17 June 2010
Follow Friday--Following Festivities
Last week was notable. I had never participated in the Thanksgiving Point Scottish Festival, but I had wondered about it. This year my red-headed granddaughter danced and I went. I went to see her, but I also felt my Ulster Scotch blood stir within me. I visited the MacGregor booth and reveled in the story of those "noble" outlaws. We aren't sure just when or how the McNees came to Rhode Island, but they were likely part of the romantic story of the MacGregors--who could be killed on sight, no questions asked.
My son, my husband, 3 grandchildren and I marched with our clan on the parade grounds to the sound of the droning bagpipes. We thrilled to the clan motto "S Rioghal Mo Dream" or "My Race is Royal." We took our turn at tossing cabers and examining swords, we ate meat pies and learned about the tartans. The weather was cool, but my heart warmed to the festival that this year was for me.
Summertime brings us many festivities, celebrations and reunions of every kind. Why not join in the fun, celebrate the past in our present and feel the family history this summer?
12 June 2010
Birthdays, family reunions, children and grandchildren visiting all have taken their toll on my family history time. But I did take a moment to send off an order for some archival boxes, photo sleeves and folders from Gaylord. I found an excellent place to do some scanning at our local university library. Their new machine can scan at 300 dpi as fast as I could turn the pages of the scrapbook my aunt put together for my grandmother.
The scrapbook is a hodge-podge of photos, handwritten histories, documents (including their marriage certificate) and letters. It is a treasure trove, but how can I sort it without destroying the book (and possibly some of the items pasted therein)? Scanning was my answer. Now the pages are all scanned (in TIFF docs), I can cut the electronic version apart and sort the pieces into my e-folders. I am keeping the original in its own archival box and also have the original electronic copy archived. Copies on 5 DVDs went out to each branch of my grandparents' family.
I'm still cutting and sorting my scans, but I can rest more easily now, knowing I have safeguarded the original by scanning and distributing. And I need that rest too, with all the grandmothering and reuning of June.
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