The Ancestor Approved Award was started by Leslie Ann (Ancestors Live Here) to show appreciation of bloggers sharing interesting - helpful - fun content. Jennifer (The Erudite Geneagloist) has passed on the Ancestor Approved Award to me! Thank you so much for the recognition. When given the nod you are asked to share 10 things you have learned about your ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened you. I thought it would be easy to make the list, but I was surprised how competitive I made it for my ancestor's stories! Here are a few of my moments.
"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Entries in shaw (8)
Don't: Write on the front of a picture
Example: Picture of my Shaw Ancestors
Sure labeling a picture this way makes it easier to identify people, but the integrity of the photo is somewhat compromised. Demonstrate your appreciation of their memories, only write on the back of the original picture. You can make a copy, write in the names, and save it with the original.
Don't: only write the first name, who is Aunt Ann?
This picture alone would be quite a mystery, no mention of whose Aunt this is or a maiden or married surname. Always include the last names, especially the maiden names! Sometimes finding a woman's maiden name can prove to be the most difficult task. You can never assume pictures will stay within a a direct family line, any facts you can include will help tell the story.
Do: Write your name when adding or modifying a label.
Do: Write the date
Do: use Acid Free/Archival Safe Ink
Do: write the location!
I WISH more of my family photographs had some indication of location. Back in the day the family would stick together and live in a relatively local spot, this is probably one of the reasons they didn't jot down the city name or street. With sites like whatwasthere.com and historypin.com you can upload images, mark their location on the a virtual map, and compare the old picture vs the google street view from today. If only we could go back in time and explain this in the late 1800's- wouldn't they be surprised!
Do: ask family members for help!
It's really important to take the time and read over whatever inscriptions you find on family pictures and documents. The smallest detail can be the key to unlocking the secrets of your family. If you have a grandparent or great aunt or uncle nearby you could ask them to take a look at your pictures. This is a time sensitive opportunity- take advantage while you can!
Have fun preserving your pictures!
Proven true in recent media, the remnants of a relationship are hard to delete thanks to wonderful technology saving allllll the juicy details. When it comes to researching your pre-computer-internet ancestors, finding a letter, a signature, or writing on the back of a picture; little snippits of their handwriting and thoughts are PRICELESS. Living in a world with instant 24/7 access to anything, it's hard to believe the amount information we've lost.
When I was a not-so-desperate-newbie genie I sifted through documents and pictures from an old box of stuff from my parents. It was hard to start my search in an organized way with a vast array of information from different family lines. One of my first projects was to organize, transcribe, and preserve a series of letters from my Great Grandfather Wentworth Middleton to my Great Grandmother Edith Shaw Middleton. The letters start in 1914 while they dated and end in 1924 married for 8 years. Wentworth had to travel out of town for his job with The Crucible Steel Company for weeks at a time and during the summers Edith would go down the jersey shore. My father rememebers Edie as a "family historian" of sorts and I'm so thankful these letters found their way to me, I will save them!
The letters weren't organized well and I spent many hours squinting and examining the loose pages and envelopes. I absolutely love Wentworth's beautiful writing, but it did take some effeort to learn his style. In all there are 28 letters and they are one of my most treasured items. I spent hours transcribing the original documents to digital format. Once printed the transcriptions were put in acid free plastic inserts with the orginal letter and envelope behind. A great way to enjoy and preserve these pieces of history.
I want to inspire you to break out that box and see what stories you have to preserve. You don't have to read or transcribe every document to make the first step. This could be a great family activity for post thanksgiving dinner (or pre dinner if your bird just won't cook!). There's probably a dormant genie in your family just waiting for some motivation.