Tags: ancestors, famiglia, family research, genealogy, photographs, WWII
In honor of Tombstone Tuesday here in Genealogy Blog-ville, and in honor of A. Coffin’s blog (great reading I might add!) at We Tree I am posting just a few photos of graveyards in Italy. It is interesting how the Italians have compensated for lack of available ground to bury their dead. Aside from the wall crypts, they also have chapels in each cemetery where after so many years, they remove the bones from graves and transfer them to bone rooms under the chapels. This too is consecrated area and where families place flowers and say prayers. Sadly the result is that not enough of the old graves exist for families to use then to track their ancestors. Records of those graveyards tend to also not be complete.
Tags: famiglia, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, ramblings
So here I am “wasting a day” reading all my favorite blogs and I get introduced to another one (thanks to Generations Gone By - again I might add!) who set me to Genealogue which is one of the funniest sites with still offering great tips and information alike. Admittedly they also offer political commentary as befitting the subject but even if you do not agree, you will enjoy the humor! The information is great though and we should all want to be informed even if we end up disagreeing!
Tags: famiglia, Italy, ramblings
Today I just want to offer a few of my favorite sites and blogs. These are places you will find I “hang around” at and use to make life easier for my research – they are also fun blogs to read, and forums that offer useful tips and hints to further your research.
Today I found a great new source while reading a favorite blog: Ciao Amalfi This blog is always chock full of handy information but this ‘Sunday Shout Out’ offering will be greatly appreciated by those of us trying to master Italian. She suggests a great site WordReference that is an online dictionary – altho I have an offline program, it was rather pricey software – so this online site will help you given our fragile economic times. Laura of Ciao Amalfi also takes you to L’italiano in Famiglia - this fun site allows you to view the Italian series and learn Italian in the process. I often explain that my Italian is constantly improved by watching TV via DISH and RAI netweork programming. I sit with an Italian/English dictionary (or two or three) and revel in old movies, music videos, and yes, even reality TV and soap operas! I use more than one dictionary due to proper Italian and to modern slang needs!
A favorite forum I visit almost daily is Gente di Mare - here you’ll find a great website dedicated to researching family in Italy. Many of the same folks here also frequent Italian Genealogy - Gente di Mare is a web site with lots of great information as well as a members forum. Italian Genealogy is a forum members site with tons of information. There are folks from all over the world only too happy to help you further your research or answer questions from the most basic to the advanced! Membership at both is free although any donations to help defray their costs would be appreciated.
Another super blog I refer to often is Bleeding Espresso Michelle Fabio is found just about everywhere on the web but she is someone I so identify with on many levels – we have never met personally but that is something I hope to be able to change on one of our trips to Italy. As an American she also married an Italian and she now lives the live I dream of in Italy! This week she is offering a chance at another of her great give-aways so head over to her blog and read away – I guarantee you will be lost for hours of enjoyment and dreaming!
Tags: Campodimele, flowers, Italy, Itri, photographs, San Croce, springtime
There are too many reasons to even begin an attempted list of why it is easy to love Italy – but this post is one sure reason it is hard to not love Italy in the spring. There are no words that can state it better than these photos will show it.
It doesn’t matter if it is someone’s backyard, or the wildflowers of the fields, or a balcony.
The colors and smells carry one away, overtaking one’s senses, in brilliant displays of beauty amidst the ruins of bombed or crumbling buildings.
Tags: books, famiglia, family history, genealogy, organizing, research
As a major undertaking of love for our sons I began a Family History Book for them as Christmas gifts. I had taken over two years to write short vignettes, recounting of family tales, first impressions, sad times, good times, about how Val and I met, married, traveled to meet his parents for the first time, and of later visits back to Italy. I loaded it with favorite photographs I had taken over the years. Then I went to Ancestry.com and took advantage of the MyCanvas program they offer free on site.
If you have not yet looked this program over, it is worth the time. There are a few bugs or quirks that I learned to work around such as making sure to not privatize the file before importing it. Photos cannot be bulk uploaded yet but it is unlimited uploads. There are great backgrounds available so I was able to personalize ours for an Italian look easily. One of those quirky issues is that it is not possible to save to a file on your hardrive or to a CD – they want to sell the books. They do however, allow you to print out copies – but with a few simple restrictions. When you print, the pages with backgrounds do “eat” ink so be prepared. Read all the directions very carefully so you do not forget issues like in order to keep all the page enhancements be sure to print in normal mode when that button is shown. It only remembers five pages at a time to print (although you can do multiples of those five pages). I chose not to add page numbers because I kept adding too many pages – next time I will be more organized about who I add when and where so that I can use page numbers too. Overall this is a great product and well worth the time to learn to use it! I bet those leather covers are gorgeous too!
Now we are getting ready for a trip to see family. So now I am saving all my work of the family stories and family tree to a .pdf format and burning to disc for everyone. Carrying multiple books would be much too heavy, not to mention cost prohibitive to print. Almost all have access to computers so they can enjoy the book in its electronic version and then save a family tree file to their computer to continue to work on! It will be fun to see their reactions to all of the research. The last time we shared information I had about 300 people – it is now at 743 and a total of 9 generations. Unfortunately, the maternal line is only grandparents and a dead end! Absolutely no information has been found on the maternal side yet! Hopefully this trip will finally break down some of those bricks and allow a little light in! Of course this is all in reference to Val’s family – my side has probably double that many included so the files put together would number a few thousand folks.
My sister has been doing most of the work on the Scottish and German clans of our parents. She has made a couple of beautiful books on both families. She has been able to include a lot of the information of our area of Connecticut where we grew up and is expanding that now to Scotland and Germany. I figure I can let her work on that while I try to pursue as much of Val’s family as possible before we lose any more information. So many of the records from Italy have been destroyed over time and are continuing to deteriorate. And of course, older members of the family have been passing away. So I must do all I can now before we cannot go further back.
So I want to tell you all about a great blog Nan’s House – http://nanashouse.wordpress.com – she is the type you feel like you are sitting at the kitchen table with and just gabbing away together! Anyway – she is also a genealogy fan and has some great suggestions – one of which I am planning on learning and using for my project. It is called Passages Express – you will find the link on her blog – they offer a free trial before you buy and the price is fantastic! Less than Starbucks lattes for two weeks! I am now working on the trial offer version but think I am going to invest in their deluxe because the price is too good to believe and it seems to be perfect for what I want to do! I like especially that it allows burning of CDs/DVDs in both North American and PAL formats – perfect for overseas family members!Check out Passages Express and Nana’s House – you won’t be disappointed!
Tags: age, ancestors, birthday, famiglia, family, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, love of family
If today’s post seems to ramble, bear with me – my thoughts and emotions are also rambling today. I hear the ticking of a clock in my head and I would rather not be hearing it. Today I am sixty… 60…. SIXTY… how did this happen? When? Why? I am not ready to be sixty….that is more than half my life gone. I do not feel sixty (although there are admittedly days I feel 120 but that’s another post some other day).I am still trying to come to grips with forty. Yes, the photo found here online is current. I just plain am not ready to be old. Who wants to be old..OLD?? Sigh. When I was young(er), I often would comment on women who tried to be younger than their age. This observation of course, does not apply to Sophia Loren .. probably one of the most beautiful women ever — someone I want to be just like when I finish growing up! Talk about gorgeous in style, looks, attitude!
See — told you I was rambling today! I wanted to grow old gracefully – be the gracious, sophisticated, even elegant older woman. We seem to respect only youth and beauty – hence the booming plastic surgery statistics. It’s not that I want to undergo the knife – I just am not ready to give up energy, vitality, sexy life yet. Who is proud anymore of being their age? We all seem to want to be something we are not. For me it is not just tied up in a number. I never discuss age with anyone. I hate they think of me as old and over the hill (yeah.. I know dumb point given conceivably the entire world could be in the know now thanks to the Internet). At work, I strive to be a little better, a little more efficient, a little more organized, a little more knowledgable than the others to compensate for age. At home, I struggle to be more active, to do more work, again to belie my age. But it is still more than that. What have I accomplished in my life? It is more than half over – what do I have to show for it or have I wasted too much time? Even though I went to college for five years as a teen and twenty-something, I returned to college for a BS in Business Administration to update myself. I finished with a 3.8 overall – so old dogs do learn new tricks. I changed careers in my fifties from retail and office management to the medical field. I know I have contributed to saving lives. So that probably also counts for something. My husband and I together raised four great sons to adulthood. They are all successful in their own rights. That should count too. In the past I did church volunteering to feed hungry folks, taught classes at church for women’s groups, did church counseling. We have done emergency shelter care for families and for children when a need arose.
Yet, has it been enough? I realized today I have lived longer than my father – he died four weeks before his sixtieth birthday. Last month we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary – by today’s standards, that is an accomplishment too. As I work on all the family records from Itri, I note the women in the family who died in their twenties and thirties. There are few records to detail why or how – life in old Italy was difficult and death early was not unusual. Did they have time to think about growing old? Did they want or expect to accomplish anything worthwhile or bigger than themselves — or did they consider being the best person they knew how to be enough? Was their focus merely surviving – or did it entail wanting to make a better life for their children than they knew? Once again I find myself caught in thinking of the past generations. I want to know, to understand, to feel what they did — I want their lessons to be ones I learn and then pass on to the next generations to come. That is the accomplishment I seek – to pass that love of family above all to the next generations to anchor them no matter what they face.
Happy Birthday me.
Tags: ancestors, famiglia, family research, genealogy, joy, missing family members, pets, special animals
Last week I almost lost an ancestor – or at least the proof she was ours. It was a frustrating experience but it was “only” paper technically. She had been dead over 150 years and no one I know knew her while she was alive – matter of fact most did not know she personally existed ever. Sure, they knew someone was married to great great grandfather but no one ever thought about it before. Now they are more interested.
This week a friend called many times from out of state. We live several states apart and we see one another rarely. We originally met right here “online’ in the vast Internet world. It was (gasp…) over ten years ago already in the then so new chat room environment. And from ‘chatting’ and then sharing online IMs and online bible studies, we graduated to phone calls and then to the actual face to face meetings! Sure wouldn’t recommend that scenario to anyone anymore knowing what we all know about online predators now! But I digress – sorry! She phoned because her elderly and not healthy Mom had gotten on a bus to the other side of the US and did not arrive when and where expected to!
I could hear the pain in my friend’s voice and feel her panic. She tried calling bus station after bus station across the country seeking any snippet of information or at least some advice. It was little to none. All I could do from this distance was pray and try to offer words of comfort that seemed so empty. We could complain about the lack of responses and this could bring us to new causes to embrace such as authorities listening to a family sooner rather than later when even an adult is missing.
It brought back painful memories of a visit from my mother in law many years ago. She was in her eighties traveling from Italy to Boston to visit family. She would spend 6 weeks in Maine with family there and then make a flight from Boston to Orlando to visit us. Family drove down to Boston to meet her flight. My husband was not at home – he had gone to help a friend a few miles from us for the afternoon when the phone call came. Mama had not gotten off the plane in Boston. A quick check with the ticketing agents showed she did not make the connecting flight from NYC. Family was near panic level. The first step was to gather up Val and get him back to the house to inform him – a not so pleasant task. And then everyone waited for me to spring into action. I called the airline and got nothing in response. Then I tried to phone the Airport Authority – seemed logical that police would search the airport for her. What a foolish assumption that was! So I began a series of phone calls to first the corporate headquarters of the airline – it was a weekend but I left voice messages with every executive’s answering service I could. And then I began calling every airline ticketing agent I could think of and beg them to contact agents in NY. About two hours into this the phone call came. A Delta agent saw an elderly woman sitting on a suitcase crying. She took the time to speak to her – the agent spoke Spanish and Mama spoke only Italian but they understood each other relatively well considering. Mama had our names and phone number – soon she was on the phone crying with her son in Florida! Then this agent got her on a flight to Boston to family – pretty remarkable considering her original tickets were not with Delta. The next morning we received several phone calls and apologies along with restitution from the original airline (no longer in business interestingly enough). Tragedy averted. About the same length of time elapsed for my friend and she too finally heard welcome news. Mom had also missed a connection – or at least it ran behind what everyone thought. Another tragedy averted.
And then there was last night. I am babysitting – or actually dog-sitting – for vacationing elderly parents. Their dog is a huge beautiful black standard poodle. She is a love bug and a half with one bad bad habit that no one has broken her of. She sees an open door and bolts for it – and she is gone! Yesterday I went out for a bit. Upon returning home I saw my front door wide open in the cold weather here – not normal for us by any stretch! Seems the sons had gone out and not closed the door tightly and wind blew it open. Misty was gone! After frantic phone calls, all four sons appeared to help search. Poor husband drove back and forth up and down the streets as did the sons. We walked the neighborhood calling her name. No one was reporting her seen even. It was looking uglier by the moment. As I walked, I phoned my friend and asked for prayer – realizing it was not like her Mom missing but this was not going to be easy to tell my Mom about! Misty is a vital integral part of my elderly parents’ lives. Most conversations always include something Misty did or was doing as we spoke. We’ve even been appointed her guardians if and when something happens to my parents. They did not want her going to an animal shelter naturally. After about three hours I was spent emotionally and physically. I collapsed on the couch in tears when one of my son’s friends came in the house calling me. “Mom – why is Misty running loose out here? She won’t come to me!” Sure enough – there she was cowering behind a neighbor’s car. Once she saw it was me, she went crazy jumping and yelping and wagging her tail! Tragedy averted! Again!
But – this got me to thinking. What important places of honor our pets are to us! Did our ancestors also have favorite animals? The cattle baron must have had a favorite breeder. Or how about the poor farmer? What importance did his best milker hold for his family? Did the shepherd have a special dog that worked the herds with him? Or did grandma have a favorite cat that slept at her feet near the fire on cold wintry nights while she read or knitted? How many of us have added that special animal to the family genealogy? Even though not technically a relative, they were sure to be a part of the family and certainly played a role in family history. I am going to go back and devise special pages for these beloved creatures. I want to share a bit of their history with future generations in order to share a more complete family view. How about your families? Did they have some special members that deserve to be included?
Tags: ancestors, conservator, contingency plan, family history, family research, organizing, photographs, preserving photographs, research
I previously wrote about organizing all those notes, Pedigree sheets, surname databases. Today I want to discuss how to preserve and protect those precious photographs. My sister inherited many wonderful antiques and ephemera from her mother-in-law. Wonderful trunks full of family journals, old calendars, cards, letters. All fantastically organized and labeled. Then there were boxes of old family photographs, most labeled with names and dates. Then there were the boxes of super old (more than 100 years old) photographs completely unlabeled, undated. Too wonderful and poignant to toss but no clue to who, what, when, or where. We figure she inherited and did not have the heart to toss either. But that is the unusual – or is it? What will your children say to you in about twenty or thirty years? Mom, dad, who are these people? What were you, they doing? Where was this taken? Will you be there to answer or will they have inherited shoe boxes of photographs of the unknown? When they open those shoe boxes, what will those photos even look like? Will they be stuck together like glue and tear as they attempt to separate them? Or will ink and colors be so faded that the faces are rendered unidentifiable? We live in Florida – land of rain, , lightening strikes, brush fires, hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes. The time to think about protecting and preserving is sooner rather than later! One horrible occurrence could wipe out years of family memories and years of family research. Start by taking some tips from contingency planners and insurance companies. Be prepared ahead of time instead of thinking it will never happen to you. Instead assume it will!
First — keep copies of everything possible. Scan and burn to CDs. Then pass a copy of that CD to an entrusted friend or family member who lives elsewhere. Do a sort of round robin exchange – everyone can find space for a few CDs for someone else. If your cousin holds for you, you return the favor and hold for her. This is even better if you do not live next door to each other! Some folks even go so far as to rent a safe deposit box for safe keeping of the really old special family certificates such as foreign birth and marriage certificates. You have to decide how valuable those are to you and if your budget can handle the expense. Some banks used to offer one free with an account.
Second – back up any of your information on your computer to an external hard drive. I make special folders for the photographs and back them up to the external hard drive along with any family files. Computers do crash and it is not easy to reclaim lost data when that happens.
Third – use a watertight container to store your photographs and other papers. When the roof falls in allowing in rain, or the flood waters rise, this may save those precious photographs.
Fourth – take those digital photographs of the family keepsakes and heirlooms. Maybe it isn’t even a priceless (financially) object – I have an old hat of my dad’s. He’s been gone 25 years but that old straw hat is seen in many photographs and it is priceless to me! Label and caption the photograph. That way at least everyone else will know what it is!
Fifth – don’t forget cassette and video tapes. Burn them to DVDs – not that difficult or expensive to do at home now via SDS cables and a little time. Again remember that CDs and DVDs also degrade, break, or scratch. Make extra copies to share.
Lastly – There are commercial web sites that one can pay to back up computer files to and store photographs. Using the commercial genealogy sites is an option but remember that the information you post there can bring privacy and copyright issues into play. Research who owns those files you post if you want to be sole owner. Remember too that some family members may not want their information posted on the Internet – so a family tree specifying Living as a name is not really helpful to recreating that destroyed or lost tree! Be especially careful posting information and photographs of children.
I have been spending a lot of my spare time scanning all of our family photo albums. Each photo is scanned, touched up if needed (old color inks faded) and then labeled with names, dates, locations, occasions. Maybe a funny or accurate caption is added when appropriate. These are grouped into manageable file folders. All my wedding folders are into one folder, honeymoon to another, baby’s first year to another, etc. I tried to take time to label many of the actual photographs also. Never use ink on them but soft pencil on the back to at least give names. If you really want to be industrious, you can print out a scan and label that. Those are a great solution for the family group shots to know who was whom!
If you feel overwhelmed, start with family groups shots, especially the old ones. Then pick one or two favorites from each holiday to save and protect. The reality is that it is not likely all of your children will want all those scenery photo shots from all the family vacations anyway. Trees are nice – but how many tree photos do they want? They will be taking their own someday too! Do this in small bites and you will not be so overwhelmed. And as you take new photos, make it a habit to label them instead of going back later! Your children will thank you someday!
Tags: ancestors, famiglia, family, family history, Family History Center, family research, filing, genealogy, organizing
This past week I told about losing track of a source document on a family member. Being rather detail oriented about my research, this was a disconcerting issue to resolve. I maintain separate databases on each family line in addition to the combination file tracing the entire family. Each database is backed up and saved to avoid losing information in case one file becomes corrupted. Everything is backed up to an external hard drive every session as well as new discs burned and saved every month. Computers are wonderful time savers when they work but horrible when they fail. A contingency plan is not something just for a business but also necessary for anyone who depends on computers for their research work. Having these safeguards in place meant my recovery was only a matter of a couple hours to find my missing work instead of redoing years of family research. I knew that a recent upgrade in software was partially to blame for the missing documentation. Somewhere along the way I lost the physical piece of paper also. Fortunately I was able to narrow my searching to a specific microfilm to go back to in order to again print out documentation.
I keep Pedigree sheets on each family member. Although these are easily printed out from most software programs, I enjoy filling my out by hand. Information included puts as much information as known on each member. Most important is that each is color coded. My basic research started with my husband’s grandfather. As the tree then branched, grandpa’s maternal and paternal lines are both color coded. The male line is blue and the maternal line is yellow. All subsequent Pedigree sheets are printed on color paper to match those codes. This makes it so easy to know where each goes. I keep notebook binders with the Pedigree sheets to take along when I am working on research. Grandpa’s wife and the in-laws are color coded in different colors to track their family lines. By the time these lines go back a few generations, we begin to deal with 16 surnames to follow. Not being able to differentiate would become overwhelming! If preferred these lines can again be branched off into separate files that are assigned their own color codes to follow. As I file each sheet in the notebook, I use index tabs to notate the family surnames. It is easy at a glance to then find appropriate surname as I work on a line.
In addition to the notebook system I also make a manila file folder for each surname. The main surnames are color coded to match the notebook information. The surnames and sources are written on the front of each folder. All scraps of paper whenever I write notes are slid into the appropriate folder. That way nothing is lost until I have a chance to go back and research or document those scraps of notes. I can easily save information I might want later but not have to spend time on sorting it all immediately. This is especially true if also following collateral lines and not just the main branches. I often run across bits of information that I cannot immediately tie into family but do not want to lose track of until later. These folders each hold that information safely until I am ready. While researching online or at the FHL, if a familiar surname is run across, I simply print out the information. Internet URLs are printed on the bottom of the pages and I write in the proper information on the bottom of any certificates I print off of the FHL microfilms. These are slipped into the proper manila surname folders until I know what family they directly tie into. Then they will be rearranged into the proper permanent notebooks. Certificates are slipped into plastic sleeves to keep intact.
I won’t discuss what format to use to document your sources. There are books written on the subject and each proprietary software has templates to use. I will however warn you to document the sources. I document my sources not only on the computer but also on the Pedigree sheets and Family Groups sheets. Especially important is to document the microfilm numbers and complete dates. Even if you lose a piece of paper, those sources will allow you to replace what was lost. If done from the beginning, keeping track of the sources will be habit. It is a bit more difficult if you need to go back a year or two into research to find those sources but even that will be worth the time spent. After six years of research the paternal line along of my husband’s family is over 800 people strong – all thoroughly documented so I am not chasing someone else’s family. I should mention here that all of my in-laws are overseas. Yet all of the research to date has been done here stateside. Documenting and good organization have made this possible. Often information has been passed to me that others feel blend or merge with this family that I find does not. The first names are often repeated in a generational naming pattern and it would be horrendous to straighten out if the wrong information was merged into the files without proving who belongs to whom. By having names and dates documented, it is easier to verify if someone is a direct relative than if no sources had been kept track of.
All of this may sound time consuming and overwhelming. It is much easier to set up and not as frightening once you begin. The initial set up took only two or three hours to make the folders and notebooks with index tabs labeled with surnames. Once set up, it takes only a minute or two to add a new surname to the front of a folder or to make a new index tab for a notebook section. By having it done, my free time is not wasted looking for a surname or a piece of scrap paper. Instead even only 30 minutes of free time can be time spent researching instead of looking for notes and lost papers.
Tags: ancestors, famiglia, family history, family research, filing, genealogy, organizing, research
My next one or two posts deal with some tips to being organized. That will make them a bit lengthier but hopefully worth the reading. If followed most of these tips will save you a lot of time when you research your family tree. Being organized and methodical helps accomplish the research rather than wasting time searching through old work. The further your tree spans back, and the more surnames found, the more important being organized means. All of this will take one afternoon or evening to sort and set up but you will be happy when finished. There will be no more hunting through envelopes, looking behind cabinets, or clearing through a messy drawer or desktop looking for a scrap of paper.