Sunday, December 16, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Make a Surname Christmas Tree

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver is kind of like doing holiday crafts on the computer.

Come on, everybody, join, in, accept the mission, and execute it with precision.

Back in 2013, Leslie Ann had a post on her Ancestors Live Here blog titled Wordless Wednesday — Surname Christmas Tree, which I thought was a great idea for an SNGF challenge on a Surname Saturday.  We last did it in 2014 — see here!  Are you game?

(1) Read Leslie Ann's post and figure out how you could make something similar to hers, or to mine below, or even something different.

(2) Make your Surname Christmas Tree using your ancestral surnames — there's no limit on the number of surnames — and decorate your tree as you wish.

(3) Show us your Surname Christmas Tree and tell us how you made it in a blog post of your own or in a Facebook post.   Please leave a comment here so we can all see your creation.


Here's mine:


This is how I created my tree:

• I'm not particularly creative, so I used Randy's tree as a model.
• I used InDesign to lay it out.  I made a text box and added names to kind of look like a tree.
• I also colored the names green for the tree and brown for the trunk.
• I found a Christmas ornament, some presents, and a star on Pixabay (images that are legally free to reuse!) and added them to the image.
• I exported the file as a JPG and trimmed the image of extra margins in PhotoShop.

I included lots of names from the Jewish side of my family.  Does that make this a combination Christmas tree/Chanukah bush?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My 2018 Dear Genea-Santa Letter


Randy Seaver is getting into the Christmas spirit for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun tonight.

Come on, everybody, join in, accept the mission, and execute it with precision.  Here's your chance to sit on Genea-Santa's lap (virtually) and tell him your Christmas genealogy-oriented wish list:

(1) Write your Genea-Santa letter.  Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy?  What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list?  They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue in your ancestral quest.

(2) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  Please leave a comment on this post if you write your own post.

Dear Genea-Santa,

I've had some problems this past year, but I still think I generally did good by genealogy.  I worked at my local Family History Center all year, I was involved with three genealogical societies, I volunteered to coordinate a group when the previous person had to step down, and I gave a fair number of talks at conferences and society meetings.  I'm still posting to my blog, and I did get some research done during the year.

I actually did kind of get one of my wishes from last year.  When I traveled to Washington, D.C. to give a presentation to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, I was able to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum library.  With the help of Megan Lewis, I discovered many digitized documents relating to Jews in Grodno gubernia during World War II.  Not directly related to my family research, but helpful nonetheless.

Unfortunately, I still have not made progress on the most important item on my wish list, and this year it's the only thing I"m asking for:  finding out what happened to Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son whom my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  Aunt Dottie is now 93, and I'm really running out of time on this, Santa.  I need all the help you (and anyone else) can give me.  My aunt's DNA is in Family Tree DNA and GEDMatch; Raymond's half-brother is in Ancestry; and his full sister is now in 23andMe  I have all the major bases covered — and still nothing.  Someone out there must know something.  Throw me a bone, please!

Everything else pales in comparison to getting this one wish.  If there's anything else I can do to help the process, let me know.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Favorite Winter Activity Growing Up

After a couple of weeks of "classics", Randy Seaver has a new topic this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Winter arrives this month all over the northern hemisphere, and the daily routines of work, education, and play change along with the seasons.  

(2) What were your favorite winter activities when you were a child and teenager and young adult?

(3) Share your memories on your own blog post, in a Facebook post, or in a comment on this post.  Please leave a link as a comment on this post if you write your own blog post so that everyone can read all about it.

Thank you to Linda Stufflebean for suggesting this topic.

I grew up in warm-weather areas — Los Angeles County; Sydney, Australia; and Florida — so the types of things that people think of as "winter activities" weren't usually something we did.  Sure, we might get some rain (and it actually can get below freezing in the Florida Panhandle, which is where I used to live), but overall not the kinds of locations that come to mind when you say "winter."  Neither of my parents were into ice skating or skiing, so we didn't go anywhere to do that.

But while my family lived in Los Angeles County (we were there until 1971), we did have a tradition for at least a couple of years where my father and Uncle Tony (not really our uncle, but a close friend of my father) drove up to Mount Baldy (which I've just learned is officially named Mount San Antonio; never heard that name before!) in a pickup truck and filled the truck bed with snow.  They then brought the snow back to the house, and we were able to play with it for a while before it melted.  I don't remember if it lasted long enough for us to make anything resembling a snowman, though!

As a young adult I lived in California again, actually in Los Angeles, so it was still pretty temperate in the winter.  I think the closest thing I had to a winter activity was spending Christmas break visiting my parents while I was still in college.  At least that's all I can remember now.

Monday, November 19, 2018

National Day of Listening 2018

This week we will celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, when people gather together in appreciation of their families and friends.  And because all those families and friends are gathered together in one spot, it's the perfect time to sit down and share stories, one of the best things you can collect as a family historian or genealogist.

In 2008, StoryCorps, a nonprofit oral history project, launched the National Day of Listening, when Americans are encouraged to record the stories of family members, friends, and community members.  StoryCorps designated the Friday after Thanksgiving as the Day of Listening as a contrast to the commercial perspective of Black Friday.

Make the time this Friday to interview a relative or friend and record that person's story.  Use a mobile phone, digital camera, videocamera, cassette tape, the StoryCorps app, or whatever you have handy.  Write it down if you have to!  (StoryCorps does have recommendations for questions, equipment, and resources for people to conduct their own interviews, since you have time to plan ahead.)  If you are with more than one family member, make it a family event and have multiple interviews.  Save those family stories and share them with other family members.

After Thanksgiving, if you have time and are in one of the right locations, StoryCorps has recording booths in some cities in the United States and also conducts mobile tours, where people can come and record interviews.  These must be reserved ahead of time.

StoryCorps has specific "initiatives" focused on oral histories from particular segments of the population.   Visit the site to learn about the Griot (black Americans), Historias (Latino Americans), Military Voices (service members), and Teachers initiatives, in addition to others.