Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Buy a 3D Print of That Missing Heirloom Family Jewelry

American Pearl, a jewelry company based in New York City, now offers a service where it will recreate jewelry based on photographs.  You send a photograph, it will create a 3D digital model.  If you want, you can then order the piece of jewelry.  American Pearl will create a mold based on the model, then cast your jewelry.  An article on Yahoo! says that the photo doesn't even have to be very high resolution, though I am sure the better the resolution and the clearer the image, the better the match to the jewelry in the photo.

What a great way to make a connection with your family history!  If you have photographs or paintings showing relatives wearing pieces of jewelry, and the jewelry is no longer in the family (or at least not in your branch), you can now have those replicated and wear them.  You can create new heirlooms to pass down through the family.

Some of the caveats:  American Pearl will not give/share/sell you the digital model.  If you decide to have the jewelry made, American Pearl will then make that item available through its regular sales channels.  If you want your item to remain exclusive, you will have to pay a significant fee.

When I first heard about the advent of 3D printing, I never imagined a use for it like this.  I'm going to send a photo of an earring that belonged to my great-grandmother.  I used to have the pair, until someone stole the second earring and a necklace my great-grandmother had made (from her engagement ring!) to give to me on my 16th birthday.  But I've never let go of the remaining earring because of its connection to my great-grandmother.

My thanks to my friend Dorothy from my local costuming group for posting about this!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Family History as Archiving

I posted recently about the upcoming Webinar on "Low-cost Ways to Preserve Family Archives" and commented that it was nice to see family collectors were listed in the group of people interested in preserving archival collections.  Often family historians are not included in this type of outreach, so even those who have a more serious interest in preservation don't hear about available opportunities.

There's a recording online of a panel discussion last year in San Francisco that also acknowledged small collections have merit with points that are relevant to family collectors, though the title wouldn't automatically make you think so.  "Radical Archiving as Cataloguing and Social History" was hosted in September 2013 by Shaping San Francisco.  Though the primary focus of the panel was on archives held by alternative and nontraditional (think "radical") groups, some of the discussion touched on independent archives and collections built by ordinary people, which definitely sounds like family historians!  Some of the topics were maintaining a small archive and what to do with materials if the archive needs to close.  The discussion is available in an audio file hosted at the Internet Archive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Free Webinar on Preserving Family Archives

To help celebrate Preservation Week, this year taking place from April 27 to May 3, the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services is presenting a free Webinar, "Low-cost Ways to Preserve Family Archives."  The Webinar is intended for "[a]nyone interested in practical ways of preserving archival collections, including family collectors, and curators and custodians of small to medium libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, and town offices."  It is heartening to see family collectors listed with professionals as being among those interested in preserving the past.

The Webinar will discuss risks that archives face from the environment and from being handled, and some practical, low-cost ways to protect items and maintain them for future generations.

The Webinar will be broadcast on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific/12:00 noon Mountain/1:00 p.m. Central/2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  Register here.

The sponsor of the Webinar is Archival Products, so I am sure their products will be featured in at least some of the preservation methods.

Thanks to Dear Myrtle and GeneaWebinars for posting about this Webinar!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Salt Lake City, Here I Come!

Hooray!  I received notice that my talk on finding women's maiden names was accepted for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies 2014 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah!  This has become one of my favorite presentations, because it covers so many different possible places you can find information.  The conference will run from July 27–August 1, but I won't know for a while on what day my talk will be.

There is always a great selection of presentations at the conference, and I know I'll have the opportunity to learn a lot.  Of course, the big attraction of going to Salt Lake City is that the Family History Library is there, with all of those books, maps, microfilms . . . and I'm only going to be two blocks away . . . it's going to be awfully hard to choose between conference sessions and going to the library for research.  Maybe I can add a couple of days on to my trip . . . .

Since I mentioned one talk, I guess it couldn't hurt to list the other presentations I have scheduled for the year, right?  I mean, as long as I have your attention and all . . . .

12:  Read All about It!:  Using Online Newspaper for Genealogical Research, Oakland FamilySearch Library

10:  Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust:  What's Buried in Cemetery Records, Oakland FamilySearch Library
17:  Calling in the Pros, Merced County Genealogical Society

7:  Read All about It!:  Using Online Newspaper for Genealogical Research, Solano County Genealogical Society
12:  Using the Subscription Newspaper Web Sites at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries, Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society
14:  The Flim-Flam Man:  The Con Man Who Helped Discover the East Texas Oil Field, California Genealogical Society
21:  Where There's a Will:  Probate Records Can Prove Family Connections, Oakland FamilySearch Library

9:  Get Me to the Church on Time:  Finding Religious Records, East Bay Genealogical Society

6:  Grandma, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree, Oakland FamilySearch Library
8:  Where There's a Will:  Probate Records Can Prove Family Connections, Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society
17:  They Died in San Francisco:  A Little-Used Source of Pre-1906 Deaths, Genealogical Association of Sacramento
21:  Anybody Home?:  Using City Directories in Your Research, Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento
27:  Read All about It!:  Using Online Newspaper for Genealogical Research, California Genealogical Society

18:  Get Me to the Church on Time:  Finding Religious Records and Grandma, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree, Digging for Your Roots Family History Seminar

5:  Jewish Genealogy:  Why Is This Research Different from All Other Research?, Oakland FamilySearch Library
6:  Grandma, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree, Genealogy Society of Vallejo-Benicia
15:  A Better Way to Do Slave Research:  Records of the Freedmen's Bureau, African American Genealogical Society of Northern California
22:  Vital Records and the Calendar Change of 1752, California Genealogical Society

Any any time you're wondering what I might talking about next, you can always check the list of my scheduled presentations.  I try my best to keep it up-to-date.  And please say hello if you attend one of my talks!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Transcription Mentioned on Television!

from Antiques Roadshow
I have written before about the importance of transcribing records so that they can be shared with more people.  Of course, one of the largest ongoing transcription projects in genealogy is FamilySearch's "indexing" work, with thousands and thousands of people around the world helping to create the searchable databases available on FamilySearch.org.  Genealogists are fortunate to have this incredible free resource.  Commercial sites such as Ancestry.com use paid transcribers to create their indices.

Families often have handwritten items that would benefit from being transcribed.  If you have your great-grandmother's diary, you're the only one who can read it.  If you transcribe her entries and put them in a word processor document, you can share the information with other family members.  The same goes for letters, bible entries, and other family items.

I've mentioned that I have written to Antiques Roadshow and suggested that their appraisers should bring up transcription to guests who bring items in.  Some of the letters and diaries that I have seen on the program have fantastic first-hand historical information, and I just know that almost all those people go home and lock up their heirlooms — and the information in them.  The items are preserved but no one can learn from them.  I received a response from AR saying my transcription suggestion was a good idea, but I hadn't seen anything come of it.

But on a recent episode of Antiques Roadshow, for the first time, I heard an appraiser tell a guest he should transcribe the letters he had!  Ken Gloss, of Brattle Book Shop in Boston, appraised a collection of Confederate Civil War letters that were found in an old house.  He asked the guest if he had ever considered transcribing the letters so he would know all the details in them.  Unfortunately, the guest's response was less than enthusiastic.  But I can hope that maybe after the episode aired and his lack of enthusiasm was broadcast nationwide he has had second thoughts.

Look at that sample up there at the top of this post.  That isn't hard to read.  I'll even start it for him:

Grenada Miss [probably Mississippi] June 14th 1862
... F. J. Sayle
Dear Sister
Yours of a late d [date, from complete image]
... to hand — While conveying the said
... –ie's critical situation, it gave grea [great, from complete image]

What family items have you transcribed and shared?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

(Photo courtesy of Barbara Stock)

2014 Forensic Genealogy Institute a Great Learning Experience

I've been back in California for a few days since returning from the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy 2014  Forensic Genealogy Institute, where I attended the "Advanced Forensic Evidence Analysis" track.  The lectures covered a wide range of topics where forensic genealogy ("genealogical research, analysis, and reporting in cases with legal implication", from the CAFG site) can be applied.

Half of the first day was devoted to DNA and the current state of the technology as it applies to genealogy casework.  Those lectures were complemented by two talks about how the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command searches for, identifies, and confirms MIA and POW military personnel in order to repatriate
remains to family members.  DNA is often used in these cases, in addition to research into military actions in the locations in which remains are found, identification of artifacts found with the bodies, a lot of ruling out possibilities by exclusion (it can't be this person, this person, or that person, so it has to be this other person), and much more.  DoD wants to be absolutely sure before making an ID.

A large portion of the second day covered how oil and gas industry companies go about looking for land that is viable for energy use and then try to find all possible owners and/or heirs to the property so that they can begin exploration and extraction of the resources.  While genealogists are not involved in the energy side of things, it was interesting to learn how they do things (with a decided slant in favor of the oil and gas companies, of course).  The second presenter that day discussed dual citizenship cases, with details about procedures for Irish and Italian descendants.  I learned that my stepsons are not currently eligible for Irish dual citizenship but might be some time in the future — once the pool of eligible candidates with Irish ancestry begins to dry up due to descendancy restrictions (at most, someone must have had a grandparent with Irish ancestry), it's possible the Republic of Ireland might extend eligibility back to great-grandparents to maintain the revenue stream.  (You did know that the main reason countries offer dual citizenship through right of descent is to bring in [mostly American] money, right?)  The final talk of the day was about translation, when someone might need it, the difference between a translator and an interpreter (translation is written, interpreting is spoken), and certified translators (less common in the United States than in Europe, for various reasons).  Having done translation for many years, it was refreshing to hear a speaker explain to others the benefits of hiring a professional translator with experience versus merely using Google Translate (helpful in a pinch, but still only machine translation).  (By the way, if you need a translator, the best place to start a search is at the American Translators Association site.)

The final half-day we heard about two very different heir search case studies, both of them coincidentally involving Jewish and overseas research.  In the first case, the researcher who was contracted to find heirs had no prior experience with Jewish or overseas research, so was extremely surprised at many of the twists and turns involved, including formal and informal name changes, changing country borders, and the necessity sometimes to "grease the wheels" at repositories before research access would be granted.  The case has not yet been closed, but the researcher's running total was thirteen countries and eight languages.  (A couple of us found this somewhat entertaining, as these obstacles are very familiar to those of us who have done Jewish research.)  The second case study should have been pretty straightforward, as the deceased had left a will and "all" that was needed was to verify noninheriting heirs per state law.  This case again had surprises due to unexpected name changes, Jewish ancestry which some family members had tried to cover up, and the difficulties of conducting reearch in multiple countries with multiple rules and restrictions.

As advertised, the institute covered a lot of very relevant material, and the presenters were experts in their fields.  The opportunity to network was also important, and I was able to meet several people with whom I have been corresponding via e-mail.  It was well worth the investment in time and money to attend.  I definitely learned new things at the institute, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that I had a good amount of knowledge already about the topics that were discussed.  I'll be looking for the announcement for next year's institute to see what subjects will be offered.