Tags: ancestors, contingency plan, famiglia, family, genealogy, Italy, love of family, memories, organizing
I have decided to make some changes to my blogging habits – hopefully for the better! This blog is going to be for things related primarily to my Italian research and all things Italian genealogy related. I have started another blog Valentino’s Wife that I hope you will all visit and subscribe to. I also hope it will be a place to generate more discussion between all of us! It will have similar limits to use such as this blog – everyone is welcome and invited to comment but I want everyone to be respectful of everyone else. Although I prefer to keep it open, please remember sometimes children come along possibly unsupervised so no outright obscenities please!!! We are supposed to be the adults! Ha!
Valentino’s Wife will be a bit more loosley organized in certain ways. We will take a more open approach to discussing events, politics, religion, family, recipes, travel — whatever strikes our fancy – and by ‘our’ I mean all of us. I want your input too! If there is sometihing of interest you want to talk about – tell me! We won’t quite be an open forum but similar in that I will make a post and hopefully all of you will join the conversation! In any event – the posts there will not be rehashes of what is here so visit both – and feel free to join in!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, contingency plan, famiglia, family, family history, family research, genealogy, memories, organizing, photographs, preserving photographs
Today is Data Backup Day. In honor of this Geneabloggers is sponsoring a contest for all bloggers writing on the subject. Whether or not one is interested in contests, one should worry and therefore learn how to back up their data! We live in Florida – home to hurricanes and tornados. Anyone using a computer is running a risk of losing their information if they don’t take time to back it up! My personal desktop computer finally died an unhealthy and untimely death when least expected to. I have had several laptops over the years also die at inopportune moments! This journey became a forced lesson in backing up data for me! My present laptop is obviously a more secure one with hard drive protection against sudden shocks and drops. It is also password and fingertip scanned locked. Those afford a slight security advantage while travelling. However if stolen, my information could conceivably disappear too! SO I have taken time for contingency planning as if I were a major company. After all my genealogy, my books, and my blogs are my life’s work! First I use USB flash drives. Each is labeled and dedicated to a specific file type. Some contain all my photographs, some genealogy files, some research documents, etc. I also back up and save all files to CD. Each CD is labeled and stored away safely. Finally I also use a portable hard drive to back up all files. That is what I keep for myself. But the reality is that if I kept all of this just at my own home, it would be destroyed along with computers in any weather disaster or fire. So I have gone a bit further. Each of our sons also has copies of photographs and genealogy files as does another family member. Also some files are stored online. Recreating all of my work of the last 15 years would not be easy but it could be done as a result of contingency planning. All of this also includes my blogs. Each post is saved along with photographs and accompanying work sources! Printed copies of all my work also exist and copies kept my more than one person. Will I ever need to use any of this? Will I ever need to use any of this? Perhaps not although thanks to computer crashes, I have used it before. Waiting until I did need it would have been too late! I am now actively scanning all older family photographs. I have saved all our children’s photos but now I am scanning older generations. I realized we own some of the only existing photographs of deceased family members. One disaster would mean these would be lost forever to future generations. My scanning will include old 35 mm slides as well as making some digital captures of old movies and VCR tapes. This is of course very time consuming but well worth the memories they will provide for the future generations. They probably will not have access to old 8 mm projectors or 35 mm slide projectors. Even VCRs are disappearing from most homes! Passing on DVD copies of these older relics will allow great greats to hear as well as see ancestors! This will bring family to life for them in ways I can only wish existed for me of those from one or two hundred years ago! In doing this, it will be important to not trust only one original copy. Disaster can strike at any time and it would be a shame to not be able to save these memories! Think in terms of sudden storms or wildfires such as California has suffered through – or perhaps earthquakes! No area of the US is safe from some form of weather or climate emergency – in fact every country has such disasters! Be prepared! BACK UP THOSE PRECIOUS RESEARCH FILES AND PHOTOGRAPHS! Back up all of your work including blogs and remember to save a file with source data too!
Tags: ancestors, family history, family research, genealogy, Review, Software
Let me begin this post by stating I am not paid nor am I employed by MyHeritage. This is a personal review of a program I use for my research.
For years I used a software that I purchased. Every year I had to buy an upgrade if I wanted to stay current and I thought that was necessary. Then I started to read others on various websites complaining about prices and software glitches. A few folks mentioned losing entire files and that was frightening considering the amount of work I put into it. I also started reading other reviews on software out there and began to search to find another choice. About four years ago I came across MyHeritage known as Family Tree Builder™. They offer a free download as well as Premium service. I am going to be very honest here. I am cheap! I use the freebie download and am much happier with it than with the premium software I have paid a lot of money for!
One of the issues that personally interested me was to find software that would be translatable to another language. We have most of our family still overseas and I wanted to be able to share information with them. This program allows you to choose any of over forty different languages! I took CD files of our GEDCOM to Italy, downloaded the free program to family computers and easily imported the family files. One click later I changed the language to Italian and viola! Now family could enjoy the research and continue on with more of their own!
This free program allows you to publish to a web page for your family. By a one click again, it automatically adds the family file to the website along with any photographs (more about those in a moment). You are limited in number by the free program versus the premium program. I still have been able to use this and get great results.
The nice part about the publish feature is that you can fix the personal setting to automatically update each time you work on the program offline. When finished adding your information, it signs you on and uploads the new information. No complicated FTP or other upload programs! When using this feature, you can also set the online preferences to be open so others can find you or make the site as private as you wish. I use a combination to keep living people’s names private but still be discoverable for potential matches out there. And yes, I have found family this way!
See those great little photo thumbnail shots? You can transfer as many photos as you choose or documents into the photograph folder and easily make a thumbnail of the favorite one to each person! I LOVE this! In one afternoon I transferred over 250 photos and assigned them to the proper person. That fast, that easy! My only complaint here? I wish it allowed an oval shaped crop of the photos and perhaps allowed some changes such as making photos sepia toned. It does accept any edit such as that if you did it ahead of time and then upload though. In addition to the ability to upload and organize photographs and documents, you can also upload videos. I haven’t tried that yet but am planning to soon.
Another nice feature is the maps portion of the software. If you enter as much information into the location fields for births, marriages, and deaths, the program searches worldwide locations and shows them. This is nice to familiarize everyone with where family originated and to trace their immigrations. It is especially nice for anyone compiling family history stories to be able to add this information via screen shots to your work!
One other feature available through the web is the toolbar. Now I know many folks do not like toolbar add-ons but this can be easily turned off or on. I happen to enjoy it allows for easy look-ups of SmartMatches™- a feature I have used to locate several great ancestor matches! Additionally there is a Family Chat™ feature. There is an easy to use event reminder to give alerts of special dates for family.
For the average user this software has a clean look and easy to navigate toolbar and buttons. For someone as a more advanced genealogist, this software also offers more in-depth features such as varied forms of making pedigree charts with as much or little information as preferred along with both ancestor and descendant charts. The area for notes allows as much or as little detail as one prefers. The citation/source area is easy for the beginner while allowing more detail for someone such as myself going into specifics of the sources. Again let me emphasize that some of the more detailed features are available only in the Premium version but I have yet to be totally stumped and left wanting in the free Basic version. I love the clean lines of the Family Group sheets that imbed a thumbnail photo of each person and follow with the notes entered on each person. The Pedigree chart also allows one to set number of generations and the amount of information you want to print. This is a great feature when printing to use for additional notes in my case.
Another important point for me is the ownership of my work. I have written one book for family and am in the process of additional work. It was brought to my attention that certain sites claim ownership of any work posted to their site. There was a recent outcry by several respected genealogists that one well known site in particular was using photos posted there in advertisements without permission of the posters. Some of the site disclaimers are confusing and misleading. I therefore asked for a clarification from My Heritage. I was assured that the site does not claim to own anything from its users. Further they stated that all rights to that information belongs to the user as stated in their policies. They graciously allowed me to reprint the following:
“MyHeritage.com family sites
None of the personal, private information that is uploaded or entered on a MyHeritage.com family site by individual members is viewed by MyHeritage.com staff, or distributed to others outside of your site, except in rare cases involving reported abuse of our use policies or legal statutes. We do collect some data, always with your knowledge and consent, which is used to personalize the site for your convenience and for the benefit of other family members and friends who are included in your site.
A portion of this data, particularly that which reflects members’ lifestyles and interests, may be used in aggregate statistical form to attract potential sponsors and deliver advertising messages to appropriate users. For instance we may tell a prospective advertiser that 10,000 of our members have indicated an interest in tennis, and then distribute an attractive offer exclusively to those users.
In no case is the personal information about individual members sold or otherwise shared with advertisers, sponsors, partners or other 3rd parties. And under no circumstances is this information collected or distributed in any form without your prior knowledge and consent.”
The actual publicity release for Family Tree Builder 4.0 follows:
FINAL: To be released on August 13, 2009
MYHERITAGE.COM ADDS MAPS TO ITS FAMILY HISTORY SUITE
New version 4.0 of MyHeritage.com’s Family Tree Builder visualizes family history in colourful maps, and offers Family Chat™ in a new family toolbar
London, England & Tel Aviv, Israel – August 13,
2009 – MyHeritage.com, a leading family and genealogy Website, today announced the release of Family Tree Builder 4.0. With more than 5 million downloads so far, Family Tree Builder is the world’s most popular free genealogy software, allowing seasoned pros and beginners alike to build family trees, research their family history, add photos and videos, and obtain unique Smart Matches™ with other family trees worldwide. The key improvements of the new version include a map module, a family toolbar with Family Chat™ and extensive support for albums to organize a family’s photos, videos and documents.
“In recent years we’ve seen a growing number of people who want to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com. “With the new map module, people can get an appealing visual representation of their family’s life journeys. They can also map the addresses of family members, quickly find all events and photos associated with a particular place and even standardize place names using smart suggestions. This provides a fascinating new perspective for millions of people interested in their family history.”
The new family toolbar provides direct access to family sites on MyHeritage.com, adds powerful genealogy search and features Family Chat – a text, audio and video chat system built specifically for family use. Members also receive useful birthday reminders on the family toolbar without leaving the Web page they are on.
The Family Tree Builder software – free to download at http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder – is already well respected by family history enthusiasts for its ease of use and excellent handling of photos and other digital media. The addition of albums for organizing photos, videos and documents makes it an even more useful tool. Family Tree Builder 4.0 also adds slideshows for showcasing family photos in appealing ways; and a new screen saver that displays family photos based on tagging and face recognition technology.
MyHeritage.com is a leading online destination for families, where people can find relatives, research family history, and stay connected with family members across the globe. In addition, MyHeritage.com offers automatic photo tagging technology that makes it easier to label, organize and search for digital photos, giving families another fun way to stay in touch.
MyHeritage.com was founded by a team of people who combine a passion for family history with the development of innovative technology. It is now one of the world’s leading online networks for families, and the second largest family history website. MyHeritage.com is available in 34 languages, is home to more than 33 million family members and hosts profiles of 360 million people.
For more information contact:
Paula Santos, Sparkpr for MyHeritage.com
Mobile: +44 (0)779 551 8335
# # #
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, family, family history, family research, genealogy
Thought I would throw out a few more names we are always searching – but this time they are from my side of the family. My maternal line hails from Scotland and then Ireland – we are looking for Hyndman, Brown, Nelson, and Fleming there. They were in Edinborough, Glasgow, Johnstone, and a few later in PA. My paternal line were from Germany. The surnames we are searching are Wenz, Schutte, Schatz, and Nagel amongst others. If any of those sound familiar, email and let’s find out if we’re connected or not!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, famiglia, family, family research, food, genealogy, Holiday Spirit, ramblings
One of those crazy earliest memories of my early childhood is my Uncle Clifford. It was always a toss-up in my mind as to who was more handsome, Uncle Cliff or Uncle Harvey. Even as a little one I knew they were both very handsome but Uncle Cliff in his wonderful police uniform usually won the toss-up! We always had wonderful family dinners together, everyone gathered for the Holidays. My dad was a big believer in family and loved entertaining everyone. My mother would make fantastic dinners with enough food for an army. Even her buffets were sumptuous meals. She used pure white damask linen tablecloths that I would watch her iron until no wrinkles were left. Then she would set out stacks of her beautiful china and her prized silverware. Plastic and paper plates were never used inside – only rarely and then only for picnics!
I was about four years old the Christmas I tagged after my Uncle Cliff at one of these dinners. This was the era when women would dress in their best right down to their high heels and men wore suits and ties, even to family dinners. Uncle Cliff, where did you find the patience to tolerate a little one hanging on your every move? As we all progressed through the buffet line juggling plates over-laden with food, I was in awe as Uncle Cliff tucked his silverware in the suit coat breast pocket near his handkerchief. I was sure no one else in the entire world could possibly be that smart!
Soon enough the evening came to an end and family were leaving. One of my aunts was helping my mother clean up in the kitchen. This was before automatic dishwashers, mind you! My mother could not sleep if there was a dirty dish or glass in the sink. Every piece was washed, dried, and put away. Silverware was counted as it was slipped back into the silverware chest. She always worried a piece might get tossed accidently and this had been a special wedding gift! Sure enough – the count was wrong and a spoon had gone missing. They searched kitchen, dining room, and living room looking for it. And then began the messy task of looking in the garbage! I tried to explain that Uncle Cliff had the spoon in his pocket! The two women looked at me mortified! Uncle Cliff was no thief!? What was I talking about? I was in tears now. My Uncle Cliff WAS TOO SMART! He had the spoon in his pocket! My poor mother was so confused by my carrying on! A few minutes later Aunt Bev called. They had made it safely home and then Uncle Cliff realized he still had a spoon in his pocket. Aunt Bev knew Mom was probably searching everywhere right now and wanted to reassure her the spoon was safe! Mom told her I had insisted that Uncle Cliff had the spoon and everyone had a good laugh as Uncle Cliff explained. I was finally appeased as everyone agreed with me that my Uncle Cliff was indeed a clever fellow!
For years family would tease at every family gathering and tell Uncle Cliff to check his pockets. Uncle Cliff has been gone a few years but even now as I wash and dry my own silverware, I remember again my handsome uncle with a smile in my heart. Once again I am four years old tagging after Uncle Cliff, the policeman with a silver spoon!
Tags: Carnival of Genealogy, genealogy, ramblings
When I was very young, I loved unusual boxes. my parents were avid ‘antiquers’, spending weekends taking long drives throughout New England in search of more great items. Then they would spend hours together over the snowy months lovingly restoring their finds to new glory. While they would be looking over interesting pieces of furniture, I would be scouting out the dusty corners of the shops looking for treasures too. Always it would be an interesting box that would catch my attention. I’m not really certain why I was fascinated with boxes. I used shoeboxes to hold my homemade Sears Catalogue paper dolls and I loved the smell of the old cigar boxes my dad used to hold his photographic negatives. But it was especially the old wooden boxes that captured my imagination. Trunks were fun and later I would love jewelry boxes too. And metal trinket or dresser boxes. But wooden boxes were my favorites! Finally came the evening we were at a local auction. I spied a great wooden box slightly larger than shoebox size. My mother laughed and told me if I wanted it, I had to bid and to watch how high I bid considering my meager money! A few dollars later and I was contentedly holding my first auction win, a great wooden box all my own! Oh, I would go on to become an auction fiend and a collector of many things including all sorts of trunks and boxes and trinket cases. Yet, I still own that very first wooden box. Nothing special about it – just a plain box that has had many uses over the last forty years or so of my life. But it was my first treasure box and one I still treasure today!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, famiglia, family, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy
When we were married I wasn’t terribly young but I was naive. I foolishly believed life would be happily forever after, the stuff of fairy tales. We were in love, what could go wrong? I had no idea my life would take to so many twists and turns, it would rival soap operas and reality TV. In his early 40’s Valentino was on his way to work one morning when he was rear ended in an auto accident. Although he walked away appearing unscathed, he ended in many surgeries and permanently disabled. We were grateful he was alive and not paralyzed. More importantly our sons still had their dad! Then one early morning a few years later my world crumbled still further. My cousin was her way home from work the evening before. Stopped to make a left turn to her street, she was broadsided by an individual on house arrest (and wearing an ankle bracelet) who passed a line of cars on the wrong side of the road at over 100 miles an hour. She was rushed to the trauma center, into surgery, and into ICU. That morning I planned on visiting her only to be summoning the ambulance for Valentino! It seemed he had what we at first thought was a blood clot but later learned was a calcified piece of a heart valve that broke loose. We then were totally decimated to learn he needed immediate further surgery to repair and replace the heart valves but that the doctors gave him only a 10% chance of surviving! So now family went from ICU to CICU, back and forth in total shock as we watched, waited, and prayed for these two young and vital people to respond and pull through!
Once the immediate crisis passed and we knew both would survive, we helped them begin the long road to recovery. It was during this time I realied not only how blessed we were but also how horribly fragile life is. And then I realized it was long distance calls to family overseas in Italy that sustained me much of the time. Yet our sons did not know most of this extended family even though Valentino and I did. So began a new chapter of my life. I bought software to start work on a family tree for the boys. I wanted to put names and faces to the extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens literally for them. Then almost without realizing it, I was moving sideways into collateral lines and adding more people to the tree. We often referred to people as cousins but I knew they weren’t really the children of an aunt or uncle. Instead I would soon discover they were in reality second or third cousins! For me this was like working on a giant jigsaw puzzle. I wanted to fit all of the names and faces together into a bigger picture so to speak. Except now this puzzle had a lot more than a mere 1000 pieces and the borders weren’t straight edges of a rectangle – these were irregular and growing wider in some places while not in others! Here and there I would have two or three pieces that fit together nicely but I was (and still am) missing connecting pieces in many places. When you try to pick up a puzzle it usually falls apart unless you use some puzzle fixative or glue. The neat part about this family puzzle is that it doesn’t fall apart! The glue that holds it together is love, unending, unwavering love!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, famiglia, family history, genealogy
The Name that drove me to Distraction!
I am changing a few names here because of Italian very strict privacy laws. A few relatives are still alive to this family that might object to parts of the story but suffice it to say, it is all true to the best of family members’ memories who recounted to me!
His mother had passed away when he was a young boy. His father was a butcher who, according to family accounts, was well-to-do. Being a widower with young children, he sought a new wife to help him. He found her in the seaside town of Sperlonga where his butcher shop was located. She was only fourteen but her family was happy to have a well-to-do son in law and agreed to the marriage. The boy was already out of the house as a teenager when his sister came to him to complain. His stepmother was feeding her own children and her brothers, but not feeding their siblings. He felt obliged to pay his stepmother a visit – he warned her to feed the children or he would kill her. She must have taken the threat quite seriously because everyone lived. No one could explain how it was the father did not interfere himself.
The day of the Italian Wedding reception for our new couple was a wonderful sunny day with lots of activity bustling about. Family and neighbors were coming and going bringing gifts for the young couple. The women were cooking in preparation for the reception. Suddenly a commotion was heard – another had arrived – a tiny wizened old woman dressed head to toe in black. She looked so terrified. Even the groom seemed upset and finally explained this ‘person’ was Sperlonga – everyone began chattering at once – they called her an ostrega (witch) who would bring bad luck or curses to the couple. She had heard about the party and was hoping for food. All the family money had been gone for a long time and she was hungry. Mama’s eyes were filled with sadness and compassion. She tried to speak quietly to the groom but the bride already understood. Mama, a devout woman, wanted to feed the woman; she was not worried about curses. The bride touched her groom’s arm –”Feed her. To refuse will put a greater curse on us in God’s eyes.” So a compromise was reached – the tables in the dining room practically groaned with food and a dish was brought to Sperlonga in the kitchen where Mama and the bride sat with her while she ate. That was the only time the young couple saw her and regrettably took no photos.
By 1996 the bride was working on the family genealogy and wanted to enter information about the grandparents. Visiting with family in Rhode Island and Italy she attempted to find out about Sperlonga but no one could remember her name! She had been so despised that no one ever referred to her as anything but Sperlonga. Yet some of the siblings were friendly with cousins and half-siblings. Every year the family tree grew but without Sperlonga’s information.
The Italian branches found it amusing that the crazy American was able to add so much information each year. They were soon enjoying adding new names too. All that time Sperlonga remained a mystery. They traveled with family on vacation in 2005. While in Itri, they had a chance to visit with a cousin through Zio, Mama’s brother. The cousin and his wife came to dinner one evening. While relaxing with coffee, the family tree banner was unrolled and she asked the cousin to help fill in missing names. He read the eight foot banner and began to laugh.” Why do you still call that poor dead old woman Sperlonga? Hasn’t it been long enough to let her rest in peace?” She looked up suddenly – everyone else was staring at him. “Do you know her name?” “Of course, it’s ….!” She happily wrote as he spelled it!
That weekend, everyone made the trip to Tarquinia to visit another sister and family. One more time the banner was unrolled and everyone had fun checking out new names. Two nieces both excitedly noted Sperlonga had a name – the sister was in the kitchen and heard them. She called out, “that’s not her name! It’s ….!” Now it was the girls’ turns to be shocked! “For five years you did not know. What happened?” The sister laughed that hearing it said wrong triggered her long buried memory! So finally, poor old Sperlonga has been given her name. Maybe this will afford her a bit of peace.
Tags: ancestors, famiglia, family, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, love of family, ramblings, Treasure Chest Thursday
Don Camillo Series by Giovanni Guareschi
(copyrighted to Giovanni Guareschi)
I grew up in the small village of Easton, Connecticut. Once a week, Samuel Staples Elementary School would walk a class over to the Town Hall basement to the town library. I would check out the maximum number of books allowed because I so loved to read. Soon I was through all of the books in my own division and the librarian made the decision to permit me more mature books. I discovered Don Camillo! Written by the Italian author Giovanni Guareschi, they were wonderfully written simple vignettes of Italian life in a Po River Valley town. The communist mayor was constantly battling the local parish priest. Aside from the flavorful way Guareschi presented an ageless moral and political struggle, this series seeped deep into my soul. I so loved these books, I hated to return them and would renew them over and over. Recently I was able to purchase old fragile copies of a few of them online and fell in love all over again. As a child they burned a dream into my heart of living in Italy but in time I got caught up in life and the dream was buried until I met Valentino. The visits to Itri awakened those dreams again. It was as if I had always known these familiar little villages and towns.
So this series of wonderful books is my offering to this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday. Make an effort to read these books and discover as I did the lure they have. They’re my treasure because they led me to a desire to know Italy. When I met and fell in love with my husband, it was the icing on my cake to fall in love with a native Italian! He is my real tresure and the reason my heart bursts and sings!
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.