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

Entries in transcribe (4)

Friday
Oct142011

Friday Love Letters: September 24, 1920

I am so lucky to have a series of letters from my great grandfather Wentworth Middleton to my great grandmother Edith Shaw Middleton. This collection of letters is one of my most treasured family heirlooms. These simple pieces of paper have been passed down and saved for almost 100 years. More on this collection and how to preserve.

Sept. 23. 1920- 91 years ago.

A letter from my great grandfather Wentworth Middleton to his wife Edith. Wentworth is working in a NJ steel mill while Edith and their daughter Marjorie are down the (jersey!) shore with friends. It seems like he planned to go down to meet them on Friday- but because of work he has to delay his trip. I love the nicknames he had for my grandmother, "kiddo". In other letters he refers to her as "chickie".

Dear Edie,

I was going to call you up but did not think about there not being any phone. You certainly are having fine weather and I wish that I could be down there with you, but it does not seem to be possible just now. Am sure that the Kiddo must be much better by now, as she was improving very much (pg.2) last Sunday and Monday.

I called up your Mother and she said that they had sent you a letter to the old place but were sending you a postal to tell you about so you must have that by now. She also said that Anna was feeling very bad again. I said that it would be very nice if she could go down to the shore it would do her good. But she said (pg.3) it would be impossible for her to get down there.

Matt sent some eggs yesterday and I will bring some or all of them when I come down. You better call me up Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. I am afraid it will be impossible for me to come down Friday A.M. I will tell you then what time I will be down (pg.4) on Saturday. I will probably be able to stay Monday and maybe Tuesday.

Tell Mort if you see him that he can play at Deal by paying the greens fee.

Am using a fountain pen and the ink has run out. I hope you are feeling fine and do not worry about things too much. (pg.5) Give lots of love and kisses to Marg and also yourself tell her I will see her soon. Give my love to the Middleton’s and lots more to yourself and the kiddo.

                                                                                    Daddy

When I read these letters I feel like I'm really getting to know them. I can't imagine any other way I could tap into their personal thoughts the way these letters do.

Do you send/save letters and cards? Do we still value the handwritten word? Inspired?

Write your sweetheart or friend a letter today!

Monday
Nov292010

* family history, grandmother to granddaughter

My GGGG grandfather JJ Franks came to the United States from England as a child abt 1800. He lived in NYC, NJ, and the Oneida Community in upstate NY (more to come on this interesting topic!). He had 9 children and somehow I am the lucky recipient of a table originally owned by him! I don't know how my GG grandmother Virginia W Middleton (jj franks granddaughter) came into possession of this table but I do have her written history of the table.

1936-Letter from Virginia W Middleton to granddaughter Marjorie Middleton

"This table which is to be the property of my first grandchild, Marjorie Middleton, daughter of Wentworth and Edith Shaw Middleton; was first owned and used by her great great grandparents Josiah James and Sarah Hunt Franks, about the year 1813, afterwards by her great grandfather Benjamin Mortimer Franks and Georgianna Wentworth Franks, and subsequently by her grandfather, Thomas Middleton and grandmother Virginia Wentworth Middleton. Josiah James Franks came to this country USA in infancy in the year 1794."

Signed, Virginia Wentworth Franks Middleton

Sept 30, 1936

 

  In following the tradition, my grandmother wrote a letter passing the table down to me, her first granddaughter. 

1998- Letter from Marjorie Middleton Wright to granddaughter Abby marie Wright

April 25, 1998

"I am adding to the history of this table which was started by my grandmother Virginia Wentworth Franks Middleton. I have had the table since her death and am leaving it to my older grandchild Abby Marie Wright to enjoy in good health and hope she will be able to leave it to her daughter."

Marjorie Middleton Wright

Marjorie owned the table until 1998; 62 years my grandmother kept these treasures! Hopefully within the next 62 years I will have a granddaughter to pass along this family heirloom. I should start drafting the letter now :)

What has your family passed down?

Tuesday
Nov232010

* Top 5 Strategy Tips for Newbie Genie‚Äôs

Dig out that box of old pictures and papers

  1. Gather and preserve any pictures or documents
  2. Evaluate what you think you know
  3. Narrow your research 
  4. Interview family and close family friends
  5. Explore Ancestry.com with a free account   

1. Gather and preserve original pictures or documents

Dig out that box of old pictures and papers. If you can’t identify people in pictures or you don’t recognize names mentioned, reach out to family members who may know the details. If you don’t have many originals to start your search, chances are someone in the family does! Once you get your (gentle) hands on some artifacts make sure to preserve them, most of the materials used were not constructed to last forever, especially not in a cardboard box in the attic. You will want to invest in some acid free plastic binder inserts, a 3 ring binder and/or an acid free photo album. You can find a very thorough reference for preservation of family heirlooms on the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute. I also suggest scanning all of the original documents; it makes it easier to share with family electronically and gives you peace of mind.

2. Evaluate what you think you know

You have to start somewhere, what do you know about your family? Grab a nice large piece of paper (or wrapping paper!) and starting with you sketch out who you know in your family (parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents). Since this is your first draft don’t worry too much about how it looks, this will be a major resource for YOU during your research. Add any dates or locations associated with each person. You can also find printable Pedigree and Family Tree charts on the web. If you are one of the lucky ones and already have drafts of family trees from other family members, these can be a great resource but I would caution the use of them exclusively when starting out. You want to check your facts and make sure you start your search from reliable information.

3. Narrow your research

Now you have some basic information and you’re ready to start researching your ancestors. It can be overwhelming if you don’t start with a defined scope for your researching objectives. If you have a ton of information from many different family lines you will want to focus on one surname at a time. This doesn’t mean you can’t be actively researching multiple surnames, but you will have the best results if you narrow your scope during your research sessions. There is so much information out there and it’s easy to get tangled up, especially when first starting out with unfamiliar information.  Instead of making a general “genealogy” bookmark or folder for storing links and docs, organize the data by surname; you will be surprised how quickly you acquire information! * I learned this the hard way!

4. Interview family and close family friends

This is HUGE! First identify any family members with an interest in your family history, there is probably someone in the family who often shares old family stories or stays in touch with that distant cousin you’ve never met. If someone is interested in genealogy they will absolutely love to talk with you. Time is precious with these resources! Don’t wait, even if you feel like you don’t know enough or maybe you don’t know this person. Contact family members in a way that is comfortable for you, standard letter, email, connect through social media, phone call, or an in person interview. If you get someone on the phone or in person make sure to record the conversation! Details can be lost or documented incorrectly during the exciting conversation. The value of these interactions is priceless, even the smallest detail can connect the missing dots

5. Explore Ancestry.com with a free account

Once you have basic credible information, you should register for free at Ancestry.com. It is completely free to sign up build a family tree. Take your time and make sure to enter the information accurately. Their software helps guide you through the steps with many resources to help. The reason I suggest this step after you have done your basic research is to preserve the integrity of your tree. As you add information to your tree Ancestry.com will use that information to automatically search their databases for matching family trees and documents. A small leaf will appear in the corner by a persons name indicating the match. You have to pay close attention to these hints, especially if you don’t know that much about the person. With this free account you can’t actually see the original documents, but you can hover over the search results and see some basic information from the original. Once you have your tree all set up and you have a good 2-week period to do tons of research, sign up for their 2-week free trial of their membership subscription. This way you can use those 2 weeks looking at documents you have already found or identified and not just entering in your family!

Thursday
Nov182010

Transcribing Love Letters

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.

Letter from Wentworth to Edith 1919

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!

how to preserve original letters and documents

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.