thegenealogygirl


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Piles and Piles of Letters – JOY!

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Just a small portion of the letters.

In early December I was given all of the boxes of photos, journals, albums, letters, and memorabilia that had been kept by my Grandmother.  It was a joyous day and the joy has just kept spreading itself all over my genealogy loving heart these many months.

I was given the boxes, in part, because I was looking for a handful of specific photos to complete my family Christmas gift.  I was in a hurry and quickly went through every single box gathering what I needed.  It was almost painful to be in such a hurry.  There were soooooooo many unbelievable treasures in those boxes and I wasn’t able to soak much in.  I had a deadline.  As I was digging I found a shoe-box of letters.  I gave them a cursory look and thought, “Awesome, Grandma and Grandpa’s letters from WWII and their missions.  I can’t wait to go through these later.”

Well, in early Spring I pulled that box out and was devastated when I realized that it contained letters from my Grandpa’s friends and extended family.  Don’t get me wrong.  I knew they were special too.  But I know that my Grandparents wrote to each other for 5 years and that my Grandma kept all of those letters.  Where were they?

I was stressed.  I wondered if a box had gotten lost or if someone had pulled out the letters thinking they would do something with them.  I asked my uncles.  No one knew anything.  I decided before I completely panicked I needed to comb through all of the boxes again.  Much more carefully.  Just in case.

So last week I started going through the boxes again.  I found and rediscovered so many cool things.  Several boxes in, I found a binder filled with letters.  But they were from the 1960s while my Grandpa was getting his doctorate.  A cool find to be sure, and something I was hoping hadn’t been lost, but still not the letters I was searching for.

As I worked my way through every box, I got down near the end and pulled a box onto my bed and was completely baffled about the fact that it was taped shut.  What on earth?!  Somehow I had totally missed one box.  My heart started to pound.  I noticed a note on the side that said letters.  Could it be?

I opened the box and started shouting for joy!  Total and complete joy.  I was staring at 4 shoe-boxes FILLED with letters.  Plus several bundles that weren’t in shoe-boxes.  There are hundreds and hundreds of letters.

Sweet relief!

I am a bit embarrassed that the letters had been in my bedroom for a few months and all that time I had been worrying about them being lost forever.  Oh boy.

Once they were discovered, I started organizing.  It wasn’t hard because my Grandma had already bundled them by months.  I just had to get the months in order.

Next I started filing the letters in my new Hollinger boxes and folders.  I filed away until I ran out of paper folder inserts.  I need to order more.  Lots more.  It’s going to get expensive.  I wonder if my family members would want to chip in…?  I’m going to need so many before I am finished.  But I digress.

The letters cover a 5 year time period beginning when my Grandpa went off to basic training for the Marine Corps.  They follow his service in the Marine Corps and then cover the time while he was serving an LDS mission in New Zealand.  During his mission my Grandma also served a mission in California.  There is also an entire shoe-box of letters from my great-grandmother Naomi to my Grandpa.  I was so surprised and delighted by that discovery.  She left no journal, no personal history, and she died very young.  I feel like I’ve been given such a gift.

I plan to digitize the letters and share them with my family.  I may post them here, I need to ask my uncles how they feel about that.  Once everything is digitized, I will publish a book for my family members.  Well, maybe more than one.  It’s A LOT of letters and may need to be broken up.

Here are my questions:

1 – Should I include all of the letters in one collection chronologically?  Or, should I separate them and have one collection of letters between my grandparents, one collection of letters from my great-grandparents and one collection from extended family and friends?

2 – If I separate the collections for the purposes of the books I will compile, should I still share the letters online in one collection?

3 – Do you have any tips for dealing with a collection of letters this large?

 

I can’t wait to get started!  Happy Monday.

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: My Darling Grandmother

ELLIS, Margaret, age 10 looking over shoulder - smaller

Mary Margaret Ellis, age 10

I love everything about this sweet photograph.  The details on the dress, the cute pose, my Grandma’s ringlets, her lovely smile, the flowers in her hair, and mostly her eyes.  Those beautiful eyes that I remember so well.

A nice original print of this photo has been prominently displayed in my Uncle’s home for years.  It is housed in a beautiful oval frame and greets you as you walk into the main part of their home.  I have often considered asking to scan it but never did because oval photos are a pain to deal with.  Well, a few weeks ago I discovered this print in the many boxes I received.  It was happily still a rectangle.  I scanned it last week and have been enjoying it ever since.  Happy, happy day!!


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Learning From My Cousin’s Loss – A Story About Archiving

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My cousin Bobbi is currently on a cross country trip visiting various cousins and significant family sites.  It’s a true genealogy lover’s dream trip.  I’ve been enjoying her brief updates on Facebook with a few photos and little stories of her adventures.  But last week, while still on her trip, Bobbi shut her iPhone in her car door.  Broken phone.  Lost photos.

Oh the heartbreak!

I read her post and thought of the many times I’ve heard people say that their phone crashed, was dropped in water, or broke and they hadn’t downloaded their photos and videos in X amount of time.  Those stories are almost always followed by the inevitable lamenting of lost memories.  My sister recently lost a months worth and that month included her son’s 8th birthday.

Every time I hear something like that my heart stops.  I am TERRIBLE about downloading the photos and videos from my phone.  I know you can use iCloud, and I have in the past, but my phone is so full that I have to pay $5/month to use it.

Well, in Bobbi’s post about her phone breaking, someone left a comment and told her that she should use the Flickr app on her phone.  They explained that you can turn on a setting to automatically download every photo you take.

What?!

Why, oh why, didn’t I know this before?

I added the app immediately and my phone has been chugging away for days.  Every photo – all 2.9K of them – have uploaded to my Flickr account and now it’s working through the videos.  The videos take A LOT longer than the photos.

I already had a Flickr account and I love it for so many reasons but now I have an app on my phone (and on my husband’s phone) that is doing the work for me and making sure my precious memories aren’t lost.

And… Flickr is completely free!

If you decide to give it a try here are a few tips.  Once you have the app on your phone and have an account set up, click the settings icon in the upper right of the app.

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Then click on Auto-Uploadr

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Then turn on the Auto-Upload photos option.  That’s it!  Now all of your photos will start uploading and will be stored in a folder called “Auto Upload”.  All photos that upload through this auto feature are automatically marked as private and will only be visible to you unless you choose to change the setting.

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If you happen to have a preschooler who likes to take 50+ pictures in a row of absolutely nothing, you will be lucky enough to see whole sections in your new folder that look like this.

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And this.

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And this.  Isn’t it fabulous?  In all seriousness, I love that he enjoys taking photos.  I should probably clean them out of my phone occasionally.  Now, I will have to clean them out of my phone and my Flickr account.  Maybe not all of them though…

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While the videos are waiting to load they look like this.  Once they have uploaded they show a video icon with the length of the video.  I will mention that once they show up it still takes a little while before they will play the entire video.  The first few that popped up didn’t play properly for several hours.  I was getting nervous but I checked again and they work great now.

If you are a bit lazy about your archiving like I am, the Flickr app may be perfect for you!  I am loving it.

By the way – did you know that most TV devices, like the Roku and Apple TV, have a Flickr app that allows you to view your photos and videos right on your TV?  We have that and every now and again we will look through pictures as a family.  Pretty awesome technology!

 

Happy Monday.  I hope you make a fabulous genealogy discovery today!

 


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Who is Patricia?

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Recently we spent our family night looking at photos of my Grandpa while he was serving an LDS mission in New Zealand.  We also looked at a shoe box of letters he kept from this time and everyone read one.  I read a letter written by his Grandpa & Grandma Skeen.  There was one thing that jumped right out at me:

"Patricia"

“The welfare man came and took Patricia to a couple who have’nt any children.  Well it just made me sick still I think it is better for her she would’nt have half a chanch ove[r] to Ethels”

Do you know how many Ethels are related to Grandma Skeen?!  A lot.  I have been going through my tree trying to figure out the most likely prospects and every one I have considered has been ruled out so far with one exception.  Grandma Skeen has a sister-in-law named Ethel.  I know a little bit about her.  I am beginning to wonder if Patricia is her grandchild or something like that.  This letter was written in 1947, Ethel would have been 68 – maybe age and health would have prevented her from caring for Patricia?  But that seems unlikely too.  Ethel and her husband seemed very stable.  He was an attorney, they lived in the same place for decades.

So now I’m asking myself if:

  • I’ve missed an Ethel I should be looking at?
  • If Ethel wasn’t a relative but a mother of a child who is a relative – girlfriend of someone?
  • If Ethel is a neighbor?
  • Who might be alive that would remember what happened?

I think I’ve been watching too many episodes of Long, Lost Family because I’m just wondering if Patricia has been searching for her birth family and I have this little clue buried in a letter in a shoe box.

I love the thought process that leads to a discovery as much as I love the discovery itself!

Now how am I going to discover Patricia’s story…?


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A Nurturing Time of Year

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It’s that time of year.  A time for planting and as a mother of school age children, a time for transitions.  Transitions from one school experience to summer.  A saying goodbye, a moving on, a time for nurturing from the mama bird.  And if all of that weren’t enough, one of my fellas is actually preparing to leave the nest.

So I’m busy nurturing my flowers and my people.  My blogging will be sporadic until school starts back up in late August.  I’ll be around when I can.

Here are some images of my porch.  We’re mostly off to a good start.  I have two containers that aren’t very happy.  I think the snails are having a grand old time with them.  Hopefully I can get that under control.

I’ll try to remember to post photos at the end of the summer.  My porch looks AMAZING by the end of the summer.  Well, by June actually, but it just keeps getting better all summer long.

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you make a fabulous genealogy discovery today!!


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Photograph Showcase – One More Family Photo

Ronald and Margaret Peterson family

The Ronald & Margaret Peterson Family, 1970

This family photo was taken just before my dad’s oldest brother went on an LDS mission.  It was one last family photo before the first child left home.  My dad is in the back row on the right with the big old sideburns.

Ronald and Margaret Peterson family, February 1981

The Ronald & Margaret Peterson Family, 1981

This family photo was taken just before my dad’s youngest brother left on an LDS mission.  One last family photo before the baby left home.  By this time there were three daughters-in-law, and plenty of grandchildren.

Peterson Family, 1981

The entire Ronald & Margaret Peterson Family, 1981

Look at all those granddaughters!  My brother is the only grandson in that photo.  After four sons, my grandparents had 12 granddaughters and 5 grandsons.  I am the little darlin’ in the front row on the far right.

I’m grateful that these lovely family photos survived and made their way to me.  I’m glad that my grandparents were able to have these photos taken to mark these occasions and remember.

I am planning to do the same for my little family.

As a side note, in my dad’s family of six, every single family member served an LDS mission.  Grandpa – New Zealand, Grandma – California, Uncle Mark – Uruguay, my Dad – Ohio, Uncle Miles – Japan, Uncle Blake – Japan.  Thinking about their service, and my son’s upcoming service, I am considering creating a chart of ancestor missions like the Ancestor Pedigree by Birth Locations.  And then that got me thinking that I should make one to reflect education levels, and one for who I have photos of, and one for who I have any type of recorded story of, and well, you know how that line of thinking goes.

 

Have a great weekend, I hope you make an amazing genealogy discovery today!


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Awesome Genealogy Interruption

Ryan with mission call copy

My oldest boy got a big white envelope in the mail yesterday containing a mission call!!  That envelope totally changed the rest of my day in a happy way.  If you are reading this you are most likely a genealogist and understand when I say I had some chores to do before the crowd arrived. 😉

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We had a map for everyone to guess where he might be going.  After everyone had arrived (lots and lots and lots of kids and some family members and neighbors) we called all the grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles that wanted to be on speaker phone and he opened his call.

My oldest son, that little 2 lb. 8 1/2 ounce baby, is going to spend two years in the Columbia, South Carolina Mission.  He will be teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and serving the people of South Carolina.  He reports to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on August 17th.

I do not know how to express my joy.  So many happy feels at my house!

If you are curious about what an LDS missionary does, this short video gives a great, basic explanation.

If you are curious about what Mormons believe you can learn a little bit here.

I hope your Friday is as joyful as mine!!

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