Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Once Was The Great Pumpkin

It was a dark and snow stormy night. The witching hour had finally come to pass. I gazed at myself in the mirror - the "Great Pumpkin" look was me all over.

The trip in this blizzard would be a long one and I had to arrive at my destination in time for Halloween. As we drove, I hung my head out the passenger door window to help the driver follow the lines painted on the road. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I was developing freezer burn, but that was the least of my worries. I kept yelling "hurry" but thanks to the weather there was no hurry this Halloween.

At last, the lights of my destination appeared. I was met at the door by a woman wearing a nurse's uniform. "Great costume," I remarked. She was not amused.

"How far along is your pumpkin?" she asked. "Nine months, six days," I answered. "Is it your first pumpkin?" First and most likely last I thought. "Yes," I answered. She informed me I had probably made a mistake in calculating my pumpkin growth chart, as my pumpkin wasn't large enough to be delivered for this Halloween celebration.

"Go for a walk," she suggested. "Your pumpkin will be late for the celebration. No Halloween winner for you this year."

Walk? She wanted someone dressed as the "Great Pumpkin" to walk. How long, how far? O.k., this pumpkin was getting really heavy and it was evident I would soon be viewing it from a spot on the corridor floor.

Where did that woman dressed as a nurse go? All the doors down the corridor were closed. I started opening them, one by one, looking for the pumpkin patch.

Aha! A man dressed as a doctor was placing a recently arrived pumpkin in the patch. "I've got another one for you," I called to him. The woman in the nurse's uniform shook her head and whispered to the doctor. "Check her anyway," he ordered.

The disbelieving woman in the nurse's uniform reluctantly checked and found to her surprise that my pumpkin was well on its way. Minutes later I participated in the Halloween celebration. A new pumpkin for the patch.

"A witch or a warlock?" I asked the doctor. "A princess," he replied.


My little princess was six years old before she realized that people did not come to our door on the 31st of October asking for candy because it was her birthday, but rather because it was Halloween.

It is her favorite holiday and she firmly believes that everyone should celebrate because it is her birthday after all.

This was originally published for the 34th Carnival of Genealogy, October 2007. It's one of my favorites. A footnoteMaven Halloween Classic. Happy Birthday Tracy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Hunter Update

Love this Nellie McKay song. And that's just what I've been doing - walking my dog. I don't want to say it too loudly, the gods may hear and take it away from me, but Hunter is much improved.

He is almost back to his old self. Tail wagging, trash investigating, soap opera watching best friend. Now don't tell my husband that his fierce hunting dog is becoming accustomed to my lap and the lap of luxury. Not yet anyway.

With special thanks to Wonders Never Cease for steering me to Nellie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Show and Tell

I received an email that left a lump in my throat. I have done several articles on Grace Mathewson and her collection of postcards on Shades; to her from friends and parents as they traveled the world. I'm sure you can all empathize with me; that as a researcher you find the ephemera and photographs, you trace the life stories, and you always want more. Today, I was honored to have more.

Another branch of Grace's family found the homage to her on Shades. I have received several wonderful emails from Kathie Stafford, Grace Mathewson's Granddaughter.

I asked if Kathie had a photograph she would be willing to share, wanting very much to see the woman about whom I've written. Kathie has sent photographs and information as well as inviting me to meet with her and her father, Grace's son David, to talk more about Grace. I could not be more honored. Grace's photograph is below.

I traveled to Montana last month for my son's wedding and went back to the antiques store where I had purchased those postcards hoping to find more. The postcards were gone and I was told they had been taken to an auction out of state and sold. I was heartbroken. Heartbroken for myself and now much more so for Grace's family.

There is a lesson to be learned here. When confronted by family treasure. Buy it. Please tell my husband it's my duty.

So here are the articles on Shades about Grace Mathewson. Enjoy them now that you have made a connection with her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An Accent - Have You Got One?

Over a year ago, I wrote the article below. I was reminded of this post by the following commercial. A commercial I always stop and watch. Don't miss the young woman at the end of the post, she's killa. So, what is home to your ear? Can you find it in the video?

We have the same biological parents. We were both raised by those parents. We shared the same room in the same house for seventeen years. So how is it that my sister sounds as if she's been drinking out of a Dixie cup all her life and I have no accent?

I lay this anomaly directly at the good intentions of our Mother. Mother was a New Yawker, with a mirra (mirror), arange (orange), Linder (Linda) sort of accent. She always believed a southern accent somehow made you sound less intelligent. Her daughter, the intelligent one - as opposed to the beautiful one, would have no southern accent.

I, on the other hand, loved the genteel old money Mint Julep southern accent. The drama queen found it very Tennessee Williams. Some of my friends had that accent and they seemed so elegant, so lady-like, so filled with southern charm.

But Mother had other plans. Years of work, and a speech teacher who shared my Mother's goal, left me with no recognizable accent. It was a difficult task getting a good southern girl to give up her accent. A difficult task and a lot of time. So much time that my sister and brothers went unchecked into the dark abyss of the dreaded southern accent.

It's best they did, because they never needed an interpreter at family gatherings. They spoke the "git, teched, stove up, leave me be" language of the clan. I always roamed the outskirts asking, "What did they say?" Until I was much older most of the family thought I was deaf. Once they found I wasn't they determined the problem was not my ears but my nose; it was a little too high in the air.

I never found my place with the New Yawkers either. One summer vacation to visit put me in my place with them. I was continually forced to repeat mirror (mirra), orange (arange), Linda (Linder) and it was never to their satisfaction. They laughed and taunted me. I was their summer amusement. They sent me home self-conscious of every word I spoke. I didn't belong on either the Northern or Southern side of that famous line.

As an adult I found a home for my accent among the out of work actors of Southern California. No accent to be heard until the director yells "Action." Then they can sound like anyone they please. Yes, I have more in common with them then my own family.

I miss the sound of the South. Hearing it in a crowd always causes me to turn and search. Even now the accent comes to me in my dreams, not to mention five minutes talking with my sister has us sharing the same Dixie Cup. The South, home to the ear, how I miss it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Citation Geeks - Elizabeth Shown Mills Bats Cleanup

As for tickets, I don’t give them out. In fact, in my own lectures on sourcing,
I give folks that same advice about not getting so uptight
over the citation police.

~ Elizabeth Shown Mills ~

When you give advice you want it to be the best advice possible. Such was the case with my article, Good Citations - A FindAGrave Question. As we all know, there's always room for improvement.

That said, thank you Elizabeth Shown Mills (ESM). After some wonderful discussions via email, we have liftoff regarding a citation for Find A Grave that has the consensus of both ESM and fM (like she'd ever need my consensus). We are that strange breed that enjoys discussing the finer points of citation late at night. I think that makes us citation geeks.

First, ESM thanked Thomas and me for our "excellent points" and agreed with the enhancements suggested. Whew! No ticket!

The following is the citation consensus for Find A Grave:

Source List Entry:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Grave. Digital images. : 2009.
Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Grave. Databases. : 2009.

First Reference Note:

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image ( : accessed 21 October 2009), photograph, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey (1881-1974), Memorial No. 15616487, Records of the Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas;” photograph © Walter Dunn.

Subsequent Note:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Grave, photograph © Walter Dunn, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey(1881-1974) Memorial No. 15616487.”

So, what has changed?

Several things. After going back and checking the Find A Grave website and reading the About page, it was determined that the name of the website was Find A Grave rather than While Inc. is not generally added after a company name; here the website and company name are the same so it is added to differentiate.

In the First Reference Note the punctuation following Texas should be a semicolon rather than a period and photograph should then not be capitalized. (Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas;” photograph). Rationale: In a reference note, when we cite a source and then put a “final stop” (i.e., the period), we mean that we are through with our citation of that source. If part of the detail about that source appears in a second sentence, then most readers will read it for what it appears to be—a different source. ESM

Now regarding the Source List Entry; I ascribe to the Tim The Tool Man, School of Citation. More power information. That is not a pristine definition of a source list. A source list is a master list of the materials we've used and does not document any particular fact. The above is a more correct reflection of a Source List Entry.

Note: I have differentiated between the digital image portion and the database portion of Find A Grave for the Source List Entry. ESM says, "seems to work just as well as combining both types in one source list entry. Which one might be preferable could depend upon how our own gen software handles citations." Our discussion was that a Find A Grave Source List Entry was analogous to a Census Source List Entry.

Here is how I would do A Find A Grave Database Reference:

Source List Entry:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Grave. Databases. : 2009.

First Reference Note:

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, database ( : accessed 16 October 2009); Record, Roscoe Benton Martin (1911-1957), Memorial No. 8494172, Records of the Taylor Cemetery, Vienna, Illinois;” record copyright Ann Brown. (Provided she hasn't relinquished.)

Subsequent Note:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Grave, database, “Record, Roscoe Benton Martin (1911-1957), Memorial No. 8494172.”


Now, do any of these work for those of us who blog our family history? Or do we need a new citation note called a Blog Note? This is a question I've been struggling with and that I've discussed with Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog.

If we number within the article and footnote, then the First Reference Note and Subsequent Note would work. I don't think Source Note entries would be necessary for every blog post/article.

Writing a blog is its own unique brand of writing. Writing a blog we are not always structuring for a publishable quality product. Yes, we should, but if we edited and rewrote to achieve that level of writing we'd never get the information out there.

What is our goal as blog documentors of family history? Aren't we striving to get important information regarding our family history online so that we can make those necessary and wonderful connections? Yet, we want our work to reflect our excellent research and show our sourcing stuff. You're only as good as your sources.

So, would an Enhanced First Reference Note work for blogging if used as a Source List Note listed in the order used and placed at the end of the blog post/article? Enhanced by the addition of links where applicable. I'm asking, do you have an opinion? Sound off in the comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good Citations - A FindAGrave Question

Good good good good citations
I'm pickin' up good citations
You're giving me excitations
Good good good good citations

I received the following Twitter question from @Herstoryan regarding her article, Citation: Is it ever okay to enhance the standard? Opinions, Please...; @footnoteMaven ... would love your opinion - Citation: Is it ever okay to enhance the standard?

The Genealogy Citation Goddess, Elizabeth Shown Mills, has answered this far better than I ever could:

Citation is an art, not a science. As budding artists, we learn the principles — from color and form to shape and texture. Once we have mastered the basics, we are free to improvise. Through that improvisation, we capture the uniqueness of each subject or setting. . .Yet records and artifacts are like all else in the universe: each can be unique in its own way. Therefore, once we have learned the principles of citation, we have both an artistic license and a researcher's responsibility to adapt those principles to fit materials that do not match any standard model.

So the short answer is yes, it is okay to enhance the standard once you have learned the principles, if a genealogical citation doesn't match any standard model. I, on the other hand, believe there are other situations where a standard may be enhanced. This subject was discussed on footnoteMaven with Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie in "Add Copyright Notice To Citation."

Here, Herstoryan's discussion is of an image of a tombstone acquired from and used in Herstoryan's Wordless Wednesday post.

Evidence Explained, by Mills directly addresses this situation on pg. 229, 5.16 Images: Markers & Plaques; Images Online. Accordingly the image should be cited as:

Source List Entry:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Digital images. 2009.

First Reference Note:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A, digital images ( accessed 21 October 2009), photograph, gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey (1881-1974), Amarillo, Texas.

Subsequent Note:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A, photograph, gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey (1881-1974), Amarillo, Tex.

Here, is one of those situations where I would add more information that could be relevant in locating this particular online photograph of a gravestone. I would combine the Evidence Explained Citation for Images: Markers and Plaques Citation p. 229, with the Photographic Files Citation of pg. 622 for a hybrid citation as follows:

Source List Entry:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Digital image. : 2007. Memorial No. 15616487. Photograph © Walter Dunn.

First Reference Note:

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A, digital image, ( : accessed 21 October 2009), photograph, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey (1881-1974), Memorial No. 15616487, Records of the Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas.” Photograph © Walter Dunn.

Subsequent Note:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A, photograph © Walter Dunn, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey(1881-1974) Memorial No. 15616487.”

This would be my citation for an online reference in a blog, as an online blog offers a unique way to enhance the citation. That enhancement would be a direct link to the photograph in the citation, as above, as well as a direct link to Here I added the link to the" Memorial No." I have also added the copyright notice for Walter Dunn. This is predicated on the photographer not relinquishing his copyright to The copyright notice is for the photograph not for the digital image.

If I were fashioning a citation for a written, real world document, I would do it this way:

Source List Entry:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A Digital image. : 2007. Photograph © Walter Dunn.

First Reference Note:

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A, digital image, ( : accessed 21 October 2009), photograph, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey (1881-1974), Memorial No. 15616487, Records of the Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Texas.” Photograph © Walter Dunn.

Subsequent Note:

Find A Grave, Inc. Find A, photograph © Walter Dunn, “gravestone for Mary Nancy McCaskill Massey(1881-1974).”

There is no absolutely correct answer. Two different researchers can cite this same information two entirely different ways. You must ask yourself, "Does this citation meet the purpose of citing a source?" Does it record the specific location of the piece of data, and does it record details that affect the use or evaluation of that data? The answer is yours.

Please cite, don't be afraid the citation police will ticket you. Learn to do it properly, but cite while learning. Consistency is paramount and finding the source is the ultimate goal. No naked facts!

For a similar, yet differing and equally correct opinion, read Thomas MacEntee's "How To Cite A FindAGrave Headstone."


Wilson, Brian, and Mike Love. “Good Vibrations.” Lyrics. Good Vibrations, Single. Brian Wilson, 1966. Copyright ©1966 & 1978, Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Lyrics Freak good+vibrations_20013757.html : accessed 18 October 2007). (

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained. Baltimore : Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Play Me At The COG


The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is:

Musical Instruments!

- ¤ -

Do you play a musical instrument or
did one of your family members?

- ¤ -

What instrument did you or they play?

- ¤ -

If no one in the family played an instrument,
tell what is your favorite instrument or band
and what is your least favorite one.

- ¤ - ¤ -

The Deadline For Submissions Is
November 1, 2009
Hosted By Janet Iles who authors the blog,
Janet the Researcher.

- ¤ - ¤ -

Attention All COG Participants

Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blogcarnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Introductions for your articles will not be provided for you due to the volume of articles submitted. Thank you!

Also, check out Jasia's post "FAQs About The Carnival of Genealogy," for all you need to know about submitting a post. First-timers always welcome and greatly appreciated!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form or select the 83rd Edition COG poster in the upper right hand corner of this page. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Geneabloggers Cocktail Recipe Book

It all started with Rob Stanhope, @maineroots on Twitter. He sent out a link to a cocktail called Corpse Reviver No. 2.

I commented that the recipe looked great, but the name was to die for! Then our geneablogging rock star, Amy Coffin of We Tree, remarked that we needed a Geneabloggers Cocktail Recipe Book.

I'm no good at mixology, but I've got a name for one. I know all the very creative geneabloggers out there can come up with a few relevant cocktail names. So leave them in the comments!

My contribution:

Brick Wallbanger

A Member of Society

Yes, I'm too late for the COG. I'm afraid life happened. I'm posting anyway, because I am a part of this society.

Well, I was too late, but kiss the host Kathryn Doyle - California Genealogical Society and Library Blog for giving Maven a reprieve. Thank you so much, Kathryn.

What exactly is a society? In doing my research for this submission I found and enjoyed the following definition of society:

a society is an economic, social or industrial infrastructure, made up of a varied collection of individuals. Members of a society may be from different ethnic groups. A society may be a particular ethnic group, such as the Saxons; a nation state, such as Bhutan; a broader cultural group, such as a Western society. The word society may also refer to an organized voluntary association of people for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes. A "society" may even, though more by means of metaphor, refer to a social organism such as an ant colony.

I must say I don't relate to the ant colony aspect of a genealogy society any more than I do to an organized voluntary association of people for cultural purposes version. I've decided recently that I'm unsociable (having or showing a disinclination for social activity) and a solitary individual. None of these characteristics are conducive to society.

I belong to two real world genealogy societies; the MacGenealogy group of the Seattle Genealogical Society and the alumni association of the Genealogy and Family History Certificate Program at the University of Washington. I am also honored to be a member of the University's Advisory Board for this program.

I enjoy participating in these two organizations because they embrace new technology and look to creative ways of connecting with their members. Good on them.

But, my real satisfaction comes from being a member of what may be called an online Society of Geneabloggers and the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. Not tangible societies, but they are the most warm and welcoming group of genealogists I've ever known.

They meet the definition of society and are everything I could hope for in doing family research. They are always there with an answer if you posit a question, their information is current, immediate, and spot on. There is an online expert in every category of genealogical research and they are all approachable. There are no power struggles, cliques, or egos. I love it here.

Join me?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Too Survived The Loma Prieta Earthquake

I have an affinity for earthquakes, or perhaps better said, they have an affinity for me. From San Diego to Seattle, they have followed me up the western coast of the United States.

I lived in California during the Loma Prieta Earthquake. The epicenter was in the Santa Cruz Mountains very close to where I was at 5.04pm on October 17, 1989. I had stayed late at the office to interview the parents of one of our clients; I was a law clerk for a local criminal law attorney. The law office was in downtown San Jose, and was in a beautiful converted Victorian house. Oddly enough, the man and his wife I was interviewing were from Seattle, the place I would call home in three short years.

I was in the bosses office at his desk when the quake hit and everything went flying. The TV catapulted from one side of the room to the other. No exaggeration. The clients and I got under the desk while the house swayed back and forth for what seemed an eternity. It is the sounds I remember the most, almost as if the ground itself was howling in pain. When it stopped, my clients got out immediately. They had never been in an earthquake. I had, but not like this. I wanted to go home, but my purse and keys were in the back of the building in my office.

Negotiating from one room to the next was like traversing a mine field. All the bookshelves had toppled over and every office was piled high with the law. Broken glass was everywhere. Plants, pictures, lamps, everything was on the floor.

My boss, the athlete, had lined the tops of all the bookshelves in the library with his trophies. The seat where I had been sitting before the clients arrived had been impaled by one of his largest baseball trophies. The bat on the trophy had gone all the way through the seat of the chair. I stood and stared, at least it wasn't me.

The phones in the office were dead. I couldn't reach my husband or my children. Yes, I had a cell phone, one the size of a shoe box, but it didn't work either. Keys retrieved I started for home. When I walked out the front door of the office the dust was still rising from the collapsed six story building across the street. The absence of noise was as frightening as the earlier howls.

No traffic lights were working, yet people played nice at each intersection. My twenty minute ride home took four hours, as I stopped at every pay phone to try to reach my husband. People were lining up at the pay phones and panic was becoming evident.

When I arrived home I found that our pool had been struck by a tidal wave emptying the water onto our patio and into my bedroom. My husband and children were there, we were all together and safe. Others were not as lucky.

California Earthquake

California Earthquake Part 2

When I moved to Seattle, I thought I had left that all behind me, but I was part of one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Washington State. Much to my chagrin, I was featured in an article in the state's legal newspaper about my experience, but I'll save that for another earthquake day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Balloon Boy Moment

My husband is no good at hiding things from me. That, "I need to take this phone call in the other room explanation." I didn't buy it. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. He kept saying, "Are you sure, are you sure?"

I would not be put off. "What is it?" I demanded. The explanation was the worst thing any mother or grandmother could imagine being told. It had been our daughter on the phone, our grandson was missing.

She had gone to work leaving her husband to get Dillon up and ready for the sitter. Morning as usual, but when he went to Dillon's room, Dillon was gone. Dillon was only four.

It was a small house so it didn't take long to search. No Dillon. No Dillon in the yard. No Dillon at the neighbors or anywhere on the block. The police were called and our daughter immediately left work. We were on our way as well.

She called me on my cell phone when she reached her house. I could hear the terror in her voice and the sirens in the background. I did my best to remain calm for her, it was all I had to offer. Every missing child story with a bad outcome was racing through my mind. The plaintive "Mom" she kept crying, made me feel so completely helpless.

The police had searched the neighborhood. They were calling in divers to drag the river. Did I mention they lived just above the river? Believe me, it was in the back of all our minds even if it remained unspoken. To hear it out loud from the police was terrifying for us all.

One of the officers arriving had gone to high school with my son-in-law. Even though the police had searched the house he wanted to search one more time before the divers went into the river. When he entered my daughter's bedroom a small foot was sticking out from under the bed.

My daughter and son-in-law were removed from the house. The officer wasn't sure if Dillon was alive and he didn't want the parents there not knowing what he was about to discover. And of course, if Dillon was dead and it was foul play, the parents could be considered suspects. He was doing his job.

The officer crawled under the bed. Sticking out from a closed suitcase was a child's foot. The officer pulled on the leg and it moved. Inside the suitcase was Dillon. He dragged the suitcase out from under the bed. Dillon emerged rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

He had wanted to spend the night with Mom and Dad, but his parents were discouraging the habit. He was a big boy, he had his own room and a big boy bed. Still, he wanted to be with Mom and Dad. So he crept into their bedroom during the night and crawled into an empty suitcase under the bed. They had no idea. Once asleep, Dillon was then and is now, very difficult to wake. He hadn't heard people calling his name. He hadn't heard the sirens. He didn't even wake when the officer pulled his foot.

By the time I arrived, like "balloon boy," we had a happy ending; but then you never know do you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vacation Update

I spoke to my new daughter-in-law's mother and father this week-end, he of last week's plane crash. Still in a great deal of pain, he will be seeing a spinal surgeon. His very wise wife may have permanently clipped his wings. Can you say John Denver?

The least she has planned for him is that it's going to cost him big-time to get the wheels that were knocked off returned. I forgot to ask where she hid them.

My pup, Hunter, took a turn for the worse last week and was again admitted to the hospital. I am Nurse Scratchet since he came home. He had a seizure yesterday and the day before. He panics and is so frightened when they happen. The doctor believes they are medicine induced, so we are experimenting to determine which medicine it might be. That's some pretty tough medicine he's taking.

Mr. Maven tried to give him his pills last night and he ran to me crying and burying his head in my shoulder. I'm the easy one. So my days are spent on clean-up and cheer-up duty. The dogs and Mr. Maven.

Zoe, my tough little girl, is well on her way to recovery. Let's hope Hunter is as well.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Set Up A Blogging Editorial Calendar

Use a calendar to organize how and when to publish particular kinds of content on your blog.

You can set up your blog calendar in several different ways, depending upon what works best for you. You can buy a printed calendar of any shape or size that meets your needs from Staples or Office Depot, or use an online calendar program like Outlook or Google Calendar.

For me, I like to start with a paper version, so I can easily flip around, write, erase, and look at the entire year’s plan quickly, all from the comfort of my living room or my daughter's house when I'm watching the grandchildren.

Begin planning your blogging calendar around your blog’s topic(s). Are they date sensitive? Are there events and activities that can be scheduled into your blog calendar?

For the family historian this could be your ancestor's birthdays, anniversaries, date of death, etc. Write a post about that ancestor. Miriam Midkiff of Ancestories does an excellent job of this.

Are you blogging about a family reunion or a society event? Calendar these assignments and blog about them in advance to promote the reunion or event. Afterward review the event for your readers and include photographs or scrapbooks.

Seasons and Holidays

There are lots of family history topics that can be associated with the seasons and holidays. It is an excellent idea to blog about nostalgia and holiday memories. If your ancestors came from a foreign country you can post about the customs of those particular areas.

Many GeneaBloggers share stories about past holidays that include recipes and stories about their family. Religious holidays are a perfect time to post personal stories and lessons about a particular culture.

Holidays are great reminders — Thanksgiving you can share family recipes - Christmas "must have gift lists for the genealogists," gifts you're making using your family history - the New Year, things you resolve to do for the new year with regard to your family history projects, etc.

What about “Spring Cleaning?" Tell your readers how you are organizing or reorganizing your family history projects. You may even wish to schedule a blog makeover. Add a new picture for your header, change you color scheme.

Nontraditional holidays offer inspiration for great blog-post content. A few examples:

-- September 19 - International Talk Like a Pirate Day, spread a little humor Matey. (This is so appropriate for Seattle's Seafair.)

-- October - Family History Month.

-- October 15 - Blog Action Day Bloggers all over the world are asked to blog about the same subject on a single day. Try tying it the subject into your family history.

And my all time favorite nontraditional holiday:

-- December 16 - National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.

"The key to writing blog posts involving traditional or nontraditional holidays is that the posts don’t have to happen on “the day.” You can lead up to them with posts in advance of the holiday. Spin the holiday events across a week or two, or more. Tell stories of how people in different areas celebrate the same holiday differently. Or find a new angle on an old holiday story."

Your family's perspective on the holidays will help others around the world understand more about your family and their culture, a specific place, or time period.

A variety of calendars available online can help you schedule holiday events from around the world, from the world’s major religions, from history, from literature, from cultures and even including local and regional events that occur in your area.

Here are some sources available to you for calendaring and inspiration:

-- This Day In History From The History Channel
-- On This Day In History - MSN Encarta
-- Today In History From The Library of Congress American Memory Collection
-- On This Day In History From The New York Times
-- On This Day In History From The BBC
-- On This Day In Canadian History
-- Today In Literature - Great Stories, People, Books In Literature
-- Literary Events Calendar
-- The Earth Calendar a daybook of holidays and calendars around the world
-- The American Secular Holidays Calendar
-- Holiday Smart
-- Calendar Source
-- Belief Net's World Wide Religious Calendar
-- Holidays On The Web
-- Time and Date.Com
-- This Day In The American Civil War
-- The Genealogy and Family History Blogger's Almanac - From The Family Curator

Schedule Those Carnivals

"Carnival, Festival, or Challenge – all are themed writing events designed to bring together articles on a given subject. Typically, the Carnival Host will announce the a Carnival Theme and invite participants to submit entries. There is no formal application or registration. Yet, there are a few informal rules that help make things run smoothly." The Family Curator

Denise Levenick of The Family Curator has written two stellar posts regarding Carnivals and how they work. They are Grab the Gold Ring with a Memorable Carnival Post, Part 1 and Blog Writing 101: Grab the Gold Ring with A Memorable Carnival Post, Part 2. These should answer any questions may have regarding Carnivals.

-- Smile For The Camera - the 10th of the month
-- Carnival of Genealogy - the 1st and the 15th of the month
-- Festival of Postcards - the 20th of every other month (next edition Oct. 20)
-- The Graveyard Rabbit Carnival - the 25th of every month
-- Cabinet of Curiosities - the third Monday of every month
-- Central and Eastern European Genealogy - the 15th of the month
-- Canadian Genealogy Carnival - the 29th of the month

please contact each host for upcoming themes

Self-Motivation for Bloggers

Create regularly scheduled blog posts:

-- weekly digest or link list of what you've published every week
-- link lists on Fridays or Saturdays to summarize what you’ve discovered surfing the Web over the previous week

Now I realize there are daily prompts for GeneaBloggers from the blog of the same name. They are a great inspiration, but why don't you create some of your own. Make them unique and individual to the purpose of your blog.

Here is an idea of regularly scheduled posts for footnoteMaven:

-- Monday - Posts of Note From The footnoteMaven (Blog posts I enjoyed from the following week.)
-- Tuesday - Across The Street And Down The Road (My corner of the world - then and now.)
-- Wednesday - Word Of The Week Wednesday (A randomly chosen word and its definition plus a short ancestral story that depicts the word with a photo and description.)
-- Thursday - Thinking Thursday (Whatever I'm thinking about that has grabbed my attention.)
-- Friday - Footnote Friday (Articles about sources and citations.)

Put these regularly scheduled items on your blog calendar, mark those subject days.

When you’ve filled your blog’s editorial calendar with regularly scheduled post assignments and deadlines for reunions, local events, holidays, this day in history, this day in literature, and special occasions, how do you schedule other subjects you'd like to blog about?

There are tons of articles I want to write about? Birding in the 1900s, modern day tintypes, my collection of family photographs, an article on the cursed corset, a great way to display letters in my family history projects, and so much more. So, I've made a list of all the things I want to blog about but haven’t gotten around to doing. First I determine how much time I need to complete them? Then I schedule a start date and a due date into my calendar.

Once scheduled, a post doesn’t have to happen in one sitting. You can research online and at your local library saving the post in draft format, adding information and thoughts over days, weeks, or months. I’ve written several articles that took me weeks to complete. Two examples are Finding That Two Hundredth Edwardian Woman In A White Dress and What's In A Name.

I work really well under a self-imposed deadline. If I calendar it, I have a starting point and a due date. This encourages me to finish what I've started.

Think about doing a series of articles. It could be about information that would be too lengthy for one post. Jasia of CreativeGene did a wonderful series of articles on Using City Directories that are listed below.

I Won the eBay Bid
What's In A City Directory
City Directories: The Introduction
City Directories: The Indexes
City Directories: The Statistical Department
City Directories: Chronological History
City Directories: Miscellaneous Information
City Directories: Directory of Names
City Directories: Street Guide and Directory of Householders
City Directories: Classified Business Directory
City Directories: Additional Information

Just because it's in your calendar doesn't mean it's set in stone. Your calendar is a living breathing thing that expands when you get a new idea, or something happens in our personal or family history life. Make room for these light bulb moments, for that random post that just pops up unannounced. Always leave room to add last-minute thoughts, ideas, tips, techniques, or news as you find them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Killing The Babies & Captivating First Sentences

"Few good works, if any, spring fully formed in first draft."

~ Tom Jenks ~

A captivating first sentence and killing the babies are necessities of good story writing. So what are killing the babies and good first sentences? I'll use my recent article for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night GeneaFun titled, The Hearse, Frozen Goldfish, and Twins as an example of the two strategies.

I received the following comment from Kay of Kay B's Place - "From the first sentence you drew me in." Thanks for noticing Kay, because that was my intention. The first sentence in any story or article should captivate the readers attention.

My sentence was, "We had only been at my Grandmother's house an hour when the hearse came and took my Mother away." Short, not complex, setting a mood, making you want to know what my Mother was doing in a hearse. Was she dead?

That was not the first sentence in my first draft. That sentence wasn't even in the first or second paragraph. What was the process that convinced me it should be the first sentence of this story?

I had written the first draft as if I was pouring memories from a bucket. I wrote everything that flowed from my mind about the event, but started with the snowstorm and then an explanation of Mrs. Mary.

I stepped back to look at the article objectively. Did the first sentence in the first draft grab me? No, it didn't. So, if the first sentence didn't grab me it certainly wouldn't grab others. Did it flow? No, it didn't. The best word to describe the article's flow was choppy.

If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper.

~ T. S. Eliot ~

I went through my first draft and determined that the first sentence of the third paragraph was the most compelling and directed the reader to the heart of my story. That was the sentence I was looking for, so I moved the first paragraph to a point later in the story. This is what I call "rocker writing;" present versus past.

Although I liked my second paragraph, it was completely unnecessary to the story and disrupted the flow, so I hit the delete button. Editing something that you have painstakingly written for your story, that you love, but that is unnecessary or disruptive to the flow of your story is tantamount to murder. These are your babies, but if it isn't working, good-bye baby. This is lovingly referred to as "killing the babies." It will hurt much less if you place that work of art you've killed in a word document to be used later in a more appropriate setting.

Good writing comes from educated reading. By that I mean you must pay attention to what you read with an eye toward your own writing. I'm reading Heyday by Kurt Andersen. It is filled with writing inspiration. Andersen's first sentence in the first paragraph of this book is a perfect example of captivating the reader.

"Benjamin Knowles wobbled into the new world."

I love this sentence. It got my attention and I wanted to know why - why did he wobble? Was he drunk? The writing in this book is excellent, so I won't keep you in suspense. Here is the paragraph that was set up by the above sentence:

He hadn't stood on solid ground for nearly two weeks, and as he stepped from the gangway onto the Cunard pier he felt shaky. The adventure continued! Albeit for the moment in a place called New Jersey. Until an hour before, he had never heard of New Jersey.

Now go look at what you're reading, what you enjoy reading. Study the first sentence and the flow. Unfortunately, we'll never see the babies the author has killed, but we will get a fine example of a finished product.

Good writing also comes from practice, practice, practice. Go back and evaluate your own first sentences. Are they compelling, do they captivate? If not, rewrite them. Do you need to kill some babies? I know it hurts, but give it a try. Your writing will be better for this exercise.

I'd love to know some of your favorite first sentences, whether written by you or an author you admire. Leave them in the comments as inspiration for us all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breaking Into Society At The COG


The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is:

Your favorite genealogical society

- ¤ -

Do you belong to a society?

- ¤ -

Tell us why!

- ¤ -

Or if not, why not?

- ¤ -

This will be the inaugural edition of an all-new GenSo blog carnival – the brain child of Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library blog. The new carnival will be strictly about genealogical societies and will begin in January 2010.

- ¤ - ¤ -

The Deadline For Submissions Is
October 15, 2009
Hosted By Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library blog

- ¤ - ¤ -

Attention All COG Participants

Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blogcarnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Introductions for your articles will not be provided for you due to the volume of articles submitted. Thank you!

Also, check out Jasia's post "FAQs About The Carnival of Genealogy," for all you need to know about submitting a post. First-timers always welcome and greatly appreciated!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form or select the 82nd Edition COG poster in the upper right hand corner of this page. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs Nominations Are Here!

The Family Tree 40 Voting is Open! Congratulations to all the blogs that have been nominated. Voting takes place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5, and you can vote more than once.

The 40 Best Genealogy Blogs will be named in the May 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine. The nominees have been divided into 10 categories. In each category you are to choose the number of blogs specified in the question (you'll get an error if you choose too many).

You can read more at the Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Insider.

1. THREE Blogs from the ALL-AROUND category. These bloggers give you a little (or a lot) of everything: news, research advice, their own family stories, photos, opinions and more.

- AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors
- CanadaGenealogy or, "Jane's your aunt"
- Creative Gene
- footnoteMaven
- GeneaBloggers
- GeneaBlogie
- Genea-Musings
- The Genealogue
- Tina's Genealogical Wish List
- Transylvanian Dutch

2. TWO blogs from the CEMETERIES category. These blogs focus on cemetery research, gravestone photos and the like.

- Blogging a Dead Horse
- Granny's Genealogy
- Graveyard Rabbit of Grey County, Ontario
- Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay
- Granite in My Blood
- The Association of Graveyard Rabbits

3. ONE blog from the GENEALOGY COMPANIES category. Blogs in this category are written on behalf of a genealogy company, and contain helpful (but not overly advertising-oriented) information on the company’s products, as well as other resources.

- Blog
- dynastree Blog
- GenealogyBank Blog
- MyHeritage Genealogy Blog
- Roots Television Og Blog

4. ONE blog from the GENETIC GENEALOGY category. Blogs that are primarily about genetic genealogy and family health history.

- Dienekes' Anthropology Blog
- On-line Journal of Genetics and Genealogy
- The Genetic Genealogist
- The Spittoon

5. FOUR Blogs from the HERITAGE category. Here, blog content focuses on a particular heritage group, such as African-American, Jewish or Irish.

- AcadianRoots
- African American Genealogy Examiner
- Al's Polish-American Genealogy Research Blog
- George Geder
- JewishGen Blog
- Le Chercheur Nomade (The Nomadic Researcher)
- Mad About Genealogy
- Museum of Family History Blog
- Small Leaved Shamrock
- Scottish Genealogy News and Events
- Steve's Genealogy Blog
- The Professional Descendant
- Thoughts from Polly's Granddaughter
- Trace Your Dutch Roots
- Tracing The Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog

6. THREE Blogs from the HOW-TO category. These blogs have instructional content on genealogical resources and methodology.

- Family Matters
- Family Tree Maker User
- Genealogy Roots Blog
- Genealogy Guys
- Genealogy How
- Genealogy Tip of The Day
- Personal Past Meditations
- RootDig
- Relatively Curious About Genealogy
- The ProGenealogists Blog
- ThinkGenealogy
- Treasure Maps Genealogy

7. THREE blogs from the LOCAL/REGIONAL category. Most posts in these blogs cover resources, genealogy events and history for a city, town, state or region.

- California Genealogical Society and Library Blog
- Dead Librarian
- Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi
- Itawamba History Review
- Midwestern Microhistory
- MoSGA Messenger
- Nutfield Genealogy
- Pennsylvania Research Blog
- Sandusky History

8. FOUR Blogs from the NEWS/RESOURCES category. Blogs in this category deliver a range of genealogy news and information about new resources.

- About: Genealogy
- Anglo-Celtic Connections
- DearMyrtle
- Destination: Austin Family
- Eastman's Online Genealogy Newslettter
- Genealogy Blog
- Genealogy Gems News
- Genealogy's Star
- GeneaNet Genealogy Blog
- Megan's Roots World
- Olive Tree Genealogy Blog
- Renee's Genealogy Blog
- The Ancestry Insider
- The Chart Chick

9. TWO blogs from the PHOTOS/HEIRLOOMS category.
Content on these blogs is primarily about sharing, researching and preserving family photos and/or heirlooms.

- Above the Trees
- Photo-Sleuth
- Sense of Face
- Shades of The Departed
- The FamilyCurator
- The Practical Archivist

10. TWELVE Blogs from the PERSONAL/FAMILY category. These blogs primarily cover the blogger's (or, in a case or two or more, bloggers') own research and ancestors. Family historians write what they know and what’s important to them, so this is our biggest category.

- A Canadian Family
- All My Ancestors
- Ancestral Notes
- Apple's Tree
- BeNotForgot
- Brenda Dougall Merriman
- Circle Mending
- Debby's Indiana Genealogy
- Educated Genealogist
- Elyse's Genealogy Blog
- Ernie's Journeys
- Everything's Relative: Researching Your Family History
- FamHist
- Family Stories
- Fermazin Family
- Find Your Folks
- GenBlog
- Genealogy: Diggin up Dirt
- Ginisology
- Grace and Glory
- Greta's Genealogy Blog
- Gtownma's Genealogy
- Heritage Happens
- Herstoryan
- Hesch History
- Janet The Researcher
- Just Thinking
- kinexxions
- Leonard Family Legends & Legacies
- Lineagekeeper
- Little Bytes of Life
- Looking4Ancestors
- My Jamaican Family
- MyNolaHeritage
- Our Georgia Roots
- Rare Ramblings
- Saturday's Child
- Spence-Lowry Family History
- Spiker Family Gathering Place
- Still More Genealogy
- Taneya's Genealogy Blog
- Tangled Trees
- Tennessee Memories
- The Fonda Blog
- The Ties That Bind
- TheYouGoGenealogyGirls
- Untangled Family Roots
- West in New England
- WeTree
- What's Past is Prologue

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Hearse, Frozen Goldfish & Twins

A memory for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Childhood Memory.

We had only been at my Grandmother's house an hour when the hearse came and took my Mother away. The hearse did double duty as the town ambulance. I was only five, but I knew there was something ominous about a hearse. My Mother with her overnight bag climbed into the front seat next to the driver and they left. They left in a hurry.

It was November and one of the coldest winters in Missouri. My Mother was pregnant and the baby was due any day. This would be her third child, so when the snow storm hit she called our neighbor, Mrs. Mary's husband. He arrived with his tractor and dug us out. The drifts had covered the front door.

I remember standing there next to my Grandmother crying for my Mother, thinking I would never see her again. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized my Mother had been in labor when she called the neighbor. Snowed in, two small children and in labor; yet she remained so calm.

Grandmother was not very demonstrative. She was not affectionate. She seemed at a loss to comfort the two little girls holding tightly to her apron and crying.

That night my sister and I slept in the front bedroom just off the parlor. Neither room had heat, the stove being in the back bedroom just off the kitchen, quite some distance from where we were to sleep. My grandmother piled her handmade quilts on us for warmth. To this day I do not remember ever being that cold. No goodnight kiss, no father. I was frightened. "Watch the goldfish," my grandmother said as she pointed to the fishbowl on the table next to our bed. She turned out the lights. My little sister cried herself to sleep. Nothing I did comforted her.

I woke the next morning to the sound of my Father's excited voice. I sat up and looked around. The fish bowl was frozen solid, the goldfish caught in mid-swim. I could see my breath and remember well how cold it was as my bare feet touched the floor.

I ran to my Father leaving my sister under the pile of quilts. He was sitting at the kitchen table eating biscuits with honey and drinking coffee. My Grandmother, looking very pleased, was waiting on him and treating him like a child. It was so difficult at five to understand the relationship between my Father and my Grandmother; to realize that he was her child.

He lifted me to his lap and hugged me. I was so glad to see him. "Well Sis, guess what," he asked as he tickled me. "Do you have a new baby brother? No, you have two new baby brothers."

Twins had not been expected and were not discovered until the delivery. This revelation was the reason for the pleased look on my Grandmother's face and the excitement in my Father's voice.

I, on the other hand, was not pleased in the least. Not then, and not for many years to come.

I Will Never Leave Home Again!

As many of you know, I traveled to Montana for my son's wedding and was then to go on a long anticipated vacation in the Western United States.

This would turn out to be the vacation from Hell, with us returning a week early and the black cloud continuing to follow us even here.

The day after the wedding we left Seeley Lake for Yellowstone, taking my ninety-one year old father-in-law with us on the trip. It was a beautiful day and a lovely ride to Yellowstone. We arrived that evening at the entrance to Yellowstone and were met with "no rooms at the Inn." Not for lack of rooms, but because all the summer help had left for the season and they did not have enough employees to clean the hotel.

We found a hotel that can only be described as interesting (read OMG!). We got up early to be in the park to see the animals on the morning move. Upon arriving we found Yellowstone on fire. 8,000 acres were ablaze filling the park with smoke and cutting it in half. To be able to see Old Faithful we would have to backtrack, a round trip of 400 miles. We tried to see what we could on our half of the park, but the smoke was very thick and it was difficult to breathe even when a distance from the fire.

Several problems arose that led us to believe it would be best to head back to Missoula and go east from there.

Arriving in Missoula both dogs became very ill. Some terrible explosive symptoms emerged. Hunter, the baby, was unable to lift his head or stand. We rushed them to the vet to find that they were infected with what is commonly known in Montana as, "Beaver Fever." It is possible they drank from the river at the wedding. (We carry bottled water for them, but it still happened. There are also many other places and ways they could have contracted the virus.)

You know the old question, "Does a bear sh*t in the woods?" The answer is yes, and there's "Beaver Poop" in the rivers as well. The proper name for this infection is Giardia and can be contracted by humans as well.

Hunter and Zoe were hospitalized, placed on I.V.s and given a course of antibiotics. Mr. Maven and I had to wash and disinfect our clothing, our vehicle and ourselves. We stayed in Missoula until the vet released the pups for travel.

We are very fortunate that Mr. Maven's cousin is a highly respected vet in Missoula and was there immediately when the pups became ill.

We are home and the dogs are still very very ill and will probably be so for another seven days. Mr. Maven and I show no signs that we have the infection.

At one point Mr. Maven turned to me and asked, "Do you still have your sense of humor." Yes, I do, but it is fading rapidly.

This morning I received a call from my son that his father-in-law of eight days was in an airplane crash in Belgrade, Montana. He was the pilot. He lost the engine at 800 ft. and was able to avoid hitting houses in a housing development, clipped a tree and made a hard landing in a field just behind a house. He was helped out of the plane by bystanders and was walking and talking as he was taken to the hospital. We hope to hear from them that all is well.

I need a week to recover from my "vacation." I will never leave home again!