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

Entries in genealogy intro (33)


* trying to identify mystery family pictures

After going through all of my old family pictures, I organized them by family and was left with a pile of unknown mystery pictures. These pictures have no labels or snippets of information. It was easy to put them into the back of my photo album and focus my time on scanning and attaching the known faces to a name. After working with the labeled pictures I had more information and clues to help me when examining the mystery pictures. These pictures have been passed down by many generations and my thoughtful ancestors added whatever information they had about the picture's location or their own personal relationship to the individual. ANY clues are a luck find, but it can be very frustrating when can't identify unknown faces! I'd love the opportunity to share a picture of someones ancestor with them!

5 mystery pictures...

Mystery Photo #1. "Santa Rosa"

On the back of this picture it simply says "Santa Rosa", what does that mean????? I know this is a Shaw Family portrait with my great great grandmother Ann, great grandmother Edith, and my grandmother Marjorie. A few of the others I am able to identify from other labeled Shaw pictures, but most are just guesses or completely unknown. The only clues in this picture are the ages of Ann and Marjorie, Ann died in 1939 and Marjorie was born in 1917. That tells me the picture was taken on or before 1939 and from the looks of Marjorie she is about 15-20? So I am guessing this picture was taken sometime between 1932-1939.

Mystery Photo #2. Woman and baby Tintype

This mystery may never be solved, I think it's likely that this could be one of the few, if not the only, picture of this woman. I believe this picture is a tintype and from what I've read the usage of Tintype photography spans the years of 1856-1900ish. I have a few daguerreotypes from the Franks family, maybe this is a Franks woman? Any suggestions on how to find out who this is?




Mystery Picture #3- Shaw Women

Again I know this is the Shaw Family and the 3 women in the front row: (from right) Marjorie, Edith, and Ann. No description or markings on the back! To me they look a LITTLE bit older than mystery picture #1, so maybe it was taken 1933-1939?

Mystery Picture #4. Co L 3rd Infantry , 1st Sgt. Lester D. May...?

This picture is from one of the first pages of an old black construction paper photo album. After looking through the album MANY times I have linked similar jewelry and settings with other labeled Shaw pictures, so I am lead to believe there are Shaw women in this album, but for most part I have NO IDEA who the individuals are. This album will soon have it's own post!

I was able to  remove the picture from the paper (VERY VERY GENTLY, I don't recommend!) and realized there was writing on the back!



1st Sgt. Lester D. May...

Co L 3rd Inf. C.A.

Greenwich, Conn

Any ideas what year this picture might be from??



Mystery Picture #5. Postcard to my Great Grandmother Mary Nolen from Lula?

7 July 1908, Rochester, NY- "This is one Ray took of me at Palmers Glen. I will send you more as soon as.."

..."he gets them done. Hope you are feeling well these hot days. Ans soon. Yours, Lula."

I don't know who Lula is! I don't have any leads to Rochester or anyone named Lula...The date of the postcard and the usage of my great grandmothers maiden name give me some sort of time line as to when Mary married my great grandfather. I don't know when they married but Mary Nolen would have been about 20 when she got this postcard in 1908 and she had their first child abt 1914, so they were most likely married between July 1908-1914. But I'm still on the lookout for Lula and Ray....

The message here: don't let mystery pictures slip through the cracks! There are many different types of clues you can get from pictures that will help you identify pictures and create a time line of your ancestors life. I've never tried any face recognition software...should that be a next step??

Clues to look for in pictures: clothing, jewelry, furniture, backgrounds, location, labels, markings from the photo processor, photographer name/location, shape, size, paper type, and photography list a few!

How have you identified pictures? Do you have unknown family pictures in your albums? Are they hanging on your wall? I'd love to hear your stories!


* writing your family history- benefits and challenges 

I've been traveling this week so I haven't had much time to post, but I wanted to share a few words about my experiences so far with the Armchair Genealogist's Family History Writing Challenge. This was a great idea, a challenge for genealogy bloggers and genealogy enthusiasts to write at least 250 words a day, EVERY day during the month of February. I enthusiastically volunteered as soon as I read about the challenge. But I must admit, I have not been able to keep up with the daily aspect of this challenge. I can at least say I have been THINKING about writing every day! :) Even if I didn't get to actually write I have been brainstorming and developing story lines in my head and jotting down notes.

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* Genealogy, Ancestry, heritage - what does it all mean? 

So I have this blog highlighting what I call "genealogy marvels" to inspire and share the rewards of genealogical and historical research. In order to for you to truely appreciate my pursuits I want to breakdown what genealogy is all about. To start, what is genealogy?

Genealogy 1. an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms   2. regular descent of a person, family, or group of organisms from a progenitor or older form : pedigree 3. the study of family pedigrees 4. an account of the origin and historical development of something

Ancestry 1. line of descent : lineage; especially : honorable, noble, or aristocratic descent 2. persons initiating or comprising a line of descent : ancestors

Heritage 1. property that descends to an heir 2 a.  something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : legacy, inheritance b : tradition 3. something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth :birthright
(As defined in Merriam-Webster)


If you google any of those keywords you will most likely find countless archives, programs, directories, and advertisements just waiting to help start your search. There are sites with thousands of records and free family tree builders, but most lead you in many different directions and aren't goal oriented ((not to mention the impending $$'s)). Without a vested interest or goal most of us will probably have it as a hobby of the month or new years resolution. Many people haven't been motivated to start/continue digging or preserving their family history, even as advances in technology make information so accesible. A fresh perspective of genealogical research is needed.

Below I've shared an interesting video outlining one professional's systemic view of genealogical research. I think it gives a good overview of what comprehensive research entails, BUT there are ways of researching/preserving your family history without feeling like you're writing a research paper.

Before I go any further with what I think, I want to hear from you. What do you think of when you hear the term "genealogy"? What steps have you taken to record the past? Do you feel that genealogy is just a "hobby"? Are you the famliy historian? What obstacles have you faced getting other family members involved in your search? Interested in genealogy but don't know where or how to start?



* genealogy loves technology: family history trends & infographic from released their analysis of how innovative technology is leading to"extraordinary growth" within the genealogy and family history industries. This is really interesting research!! I just don't understand- why aren't younger generations as involved with genealogy and family history? Especially since they are actively using/creating/influencing these new programs and technologies! CHECK IT OUT : infographic highlighting the trends as found by

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