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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday
Jan182012

Library of Congress: Stories from the Veterans History Project

I am in the process of scanning and organizing some of my grandfather's old pictures from his time in the army during WWII. There are pictures from army reunions he attended with my grandmother and quite a few from his time at Fort Dix in the 1960's. Unfortunately, both he and my grandmother are passed away so I can't go to them with my questions. Instead I do what I know best, scour the internet for clues.

This is how I came to find The Veterans History Project. The project "collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war." They have a section called Stories from the Veterans History Project where there are hundreds of first person veteran interviews you can actually listen to! The veteran's stories cover WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. I could listen to the voices of these heroes for hours. * I had to download real player to listen to the audio.

Do you know a veteran? Why don't you participate and help share their story!? Check out the participation guidelines for conducting interviews. It's rather simple and could be a very special way to preserve your family history for many generations to come.

Tuesday
Jan102012

Tombstone Tuesday: Calvary Cemetery -The Graves Have Eyes

For some people, cemeteries are creepy- but not to me! I find them fascinating! On a recent trip to Calvary Cemetery in Queens, NY I saw something I've never seen before at any other cemetery...actual pictures preserved right on the tombstones. When walking through a cemetery I often wonder about the lives of the people buried beneath me. A picture on a tombstone really brings the name and tombstone to life!

For some of these people, I wonder if these could potentially be the only known picture left of them. This has taught me a lesson, finding an ancestor's grave could yield amazing results. Especially for those in my tree who I have no picture of. I never would have thought a tombstone could preserve an image as well as these have. And many of these pictures are almost a hundred years old (according to the death dates).

The picture to the left is of Carmela Mancino, born-1884 died- 1925.  

 

Click to enlarge the pictures.

 

One grave in particular really stuck with me, that of Rosaria Fidanza. She died when she was just 22 years old. Below is her grave and picture. There will be a follow up post on Rosaria with more information. I couldn't help myself and did a little digging on ancestry.com for more of her story.

The translated inscription says: "Erected by Nicola Fidanza, in memory of his adorned wife Rosaria Fidanza. Born Buttafuoco (maiden name) August 25, 1903 Died December 6, 1925"

This is Giuseppe Blanco who died in 1925 at the age of 31.

Have you seen this trend before? Calvary Cemetery is a catholic cemetery with a high population of Italian burials. In the section I was exploring (First Calvary Cemetery, Section 6B) the pictures were predominately found on Italian tombstones. I don't know if this is an Italian trend, a period trend (many died around 1925), a catholic trend, or a trend specific to this cemetery or tombstone designer- but I love it!! I would be so happy to find a picture of my ancestor on their tombstone. I'll be keeping an eye out for this trend in other cemeteries. I'd love to hear any stories you might have relating to pictures and tombstones!

Tuesday
Jan032012

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday season. We're now in a tough time of year, the holidays are over and we are all feeling bloated and tired from all the fun we had. The pressure is on to start this new year with resolutions.  I usually love morning talk shows like The Today Show and The View, but these past 2 days I've been hit over the head with resolutions for health, exercise, and organization inspiration. They really know how to make you feel bad about your eating and exercise habits. I don't usually make new years resolutions, do you?

This year I've decided to make a list of goals for my genealogy pursuits of 2012. Staying organized and on top of all the different aspects of tracing my family tree is a challenge. Some of the most interesting and exciting parts of the pursuit can be pushed aside and forgotten with every new lead or uncovered story. So hopefully as the year goes on you'll find follow ups and items being checked off this list. Not to mention many intriguing stories, new friends, and revelations along the way!

- Continue the Daughters of the American Revolution application process, I'm still on the very first step. (2 months and still no response...)

- Take a trip to Greenwood (Knights of Pythias Cemetery) in Philadelphia, PA to visit the Wright plot and have a grave marker added.

- Research the family table that was passed down to me and get it checked out by an expert to authenticate the family history timeline started by my gg grandmother.

- Organize my grandfather's papers and medals from WWII.

- Unfortunately I won't be able to make the reunion of the 324th Infantry in September, so I hope to schedule a time to skype with the group to hear their stories and share my grandfathers pictures.

- Take a trip the Pennsylvania Archives in Philadelphia to get birth/marriage/death certificates for Grimm, Nolen, Snyder, and Wright families.

- Preserve my Franks family daguerreotypes. 

- Take a trip to Bordentown, NJ to meet my long time pen pal and fellow Wright researcher Sue. We share a very elusive ancestor, Joel Wright (b.1782 d. 1854), and he has been driving us crazy for years. I hope 2012 is the year we will break through this brickwall. 

Well there you have it, I'd LOVE to check all of these off by the end of 2012.

Thank you to everyone who read and supported my blog in 2011! I am so thankful for all of you who commented, got in touch, and shared stories to help me conquer my pursuits. A major goal of this blog is to chart my course through genealogy, history, and it's impact on my life. But hearing from YOU has been, by far, the most rewarding part of it all. Thank you and cheers to a fantastic 2012!

Wednesday
Dec142011

2011 Holiday Gift Guide For The Family Historian 

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

This handy mobile scanner will give your family historian the ability to scan pictures and documents where ever they go! With Flip-Pal you can even scan pictures that are hanging on the wall. So many times I have been visiting with family and we look at old pictures or interesting documents and I struggle to take pictures with my cell phone or camera. Often times I can't get the settings right to get a nice clear image. I don't have one of these yet... :) But I've heard great things. Price $149.99

 

Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker software allows you to export your ancestry.com family tree directly to your desktop. Set up is really easy and they have versions for PC and MAC. Once your family tree is loaded to the software, you can access your tree even when you don't have an internet connection! There are tons of great reports, charts, and diagrams you can customize and print to give your research a professional touch. Price For PC: FTM 2012 $29.99 FTM "complete" $59.99 For Mac: FTM for Mac 2 $55.99

 

Ancestry.com Gift Memberships

The perfect gift for anyone who loves using Ancestry.com to research family history. With a paid subscription you have access to billions of historical records! You can choose a duration and start date for the membership. The recipient will receive an email alerting them of their membership on the membership start date you select. You will have the chance to print out the gift certificate to give to the person if you'd like. **This type of gift is only for people who DO NOT already have an active ancestry.com membership. See the gift membership FAQ for more information.** Price for 12 month U.S Membership: $159 Price for U.S 6 month Membership: $89

 

The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising

I found this book at the library and found it to be a very helpful resource! From amazon.com- "Has your family history research hit a brick wall? Inside you will find: Ideas on how to find vital records before civil registration, Tips for finding "missing" ancestors on censuses, Instructions for investigating collateral kin to further your pedigree, Work-arounds for lost or destroyed records....and much more! This revised edition also includes new information about online research techniques and a look at the role of DNA research. Plus you'll find a glossary of genealogy terms and more than a dozen templates for charts and logs to help you organize and record your research." Price: $15.76 (amazon.com)

 

 

Archival Photo Pages, Sleeves, and Binders

Archival materials are always a great gift for your family historian. You definitely want to encourage their motivation to organize and preserve your family pictures and documents. Every time pictures and papers are touched oils from your hands will slowly start to degrade the materials. By giving the gift of binders, plastic sleeves, archival boxes...you can help guarantee these precious family memories will be preserved for the next generation. You can buy these materials many different places, I'm linking to one well known site- Light Impressions.