Saturday, June 24, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Are You Saving Family Photographs and Home Movies?

I'm still running behind, so I'm catching up on an older Saturday Night Genealogy Fun today.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Almost all genealogists have family photographs and/or home movies of their ancestors, relatives, and friends handed down over the generations.

2.  What steps have you taken to obtain, save, and pass on those photographs or home movies to your family members?

3.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I am the family genealogist, so I am the person who has ended up with most of the family photos.  I brought home two or three boxes of photos after cleaning out my maternal grandmother's apartment when she had a stroke and it was clear that she was not going to be able to live by herself anymore.  I have one or two boxes of photos from my maternal uncle, which he gave to me when I visited him and my aunt in the summer of 2022.  I even have photos given to me by a cousin's widower; I had visited them while my cousin was still alive, and after she passed away, her husband contacted me and asked if I wanted the photos from her side of the family (hell, yes!).

The exception is that my sister currently has custody of the photos that my father had in his possession when he passed away (and she got them from our stepbrother, but that is a long, complicated story).  I believe she also has our father's lifetime of automobile racing trophies, but they might still be with our stepbrother's widow.  (I said it was complicated.)

I don't know of any home movies that were made in the first place, much less that have survived.  My family seems to have stuck to photographs.

Before scanning became so easy and so ubiquitous, I had photo negatives made of a few photographs before giving the original physical photos to the family members pictured in them.  Then I had prints made from the photo negs.

I have done lots of scanning of the photos that I have and have shared a lot of those scans (although I don't think all) with family members.  I also share them by posting them on my blog, and this has helped get some of them identified.  I have given physical copies of photographs to people pictured in them or to close relatives of those individuals.  I have shared duplicate copies of some photos (made when the photos were first printed) with family members.  I always identify as many people in a photo as I can and try to include date and location when possible when sharing scans and giving physical photos.

I have put together photo books of different family lines and shared those books with family members.

I have also tried to find family members for photos that are of friends of my family but not my family members, to give them.  So far I haven't been successful with any of those searches.

My most successful photo return was when I was given several photos of my paternal grandfather with his second wife and my youngest aunt (my father's only younger half-sibling).  That took a few years, but I found my aunt (and her mother)!  And I scanned those photos before giving them to her.

My sister was having her niece scan the photos she has.  I received copies of some of them, maybe all that had been scanned.  The last time I checked, scanning was still ongoing.

I don't do any colorizing.  I really don't like it.  I think it's far too easy for people to forget that the color was added later, and then they'll think that's what the photos looked like originally.  I have done some enhancements myself to try to make some photos clearer, but that's generally all.

When I determined that one photo I had was of my great-great-grandparents, including the great-great-grandmother who died in 1908 and whose death started the family's chain migration to the United States, I had it professionally scanned and cleaned up, because I considered it such an important photo for the family.

I still need to work on archival storage for the photos I have.  I know they can deteriorate, and I don't want that to happen.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Fishing with My Father

Today is not only Father's Day, it's also National Go Fishing Day.  I figured I could cover them both by writing about fishing with my father.  Brilliant, right?

Daddy used to like to fish for bass, but I wasn't that crazy about eating bass.  I liked fishing for catfish.  There's something about catfish and the steaklike texture of the fillets that I just love.

Since we were freshwater fishing in Florida, we would catch mud cats, apparently more properly known as flathead catfish.  They're scavengers that live on the bottom of creeks and rivers, ergo the mud in their nickname.  I don't remember what we used for bait, but the Wikipedia page about them says live bait is preferred, so it may have been small fish or possibly worms.

One of the interesting things about catfish is their skin.  They don't have scales.  Instead their skin is kind of like leather.  Like scales, you don't eat it.  Unlike scaling a regular fish, however, it's necessary to peel off their skin.

That was something I always left to my father.  I had a great time going out fishing with him, and I was always happy when we caught catfish.  But he was in charge of skinning them.

The way he did it was to nail the catfish's head to the porch and then, wearing heavy gloves, use pliers to peel the skin off the body.  I freely admit it was not something that I wanted to do.

Then we would have yummy catfish fillets for dinner.  I think my mother lightly fried them.  They were always delicious.

Another fun thing about catfish is that I was always told that their spines are poisonous.  I don't think it's supposed to be enough to actually kill you, unless maybe you're just a little kid, but I guess enough to make you sick.

One time when we had catfish for dinner, my brother was put in charge of taking the trash out afterward.  The spines and nasty bits of the catfish were on the bottom of the trash bag.  He took the bag out, dumped it upside down, and mashed it down so that the trash can lid would close — and stuck himself with a catfish spine.

He ran into the house screaming, blood spurting out of his hand.  My mother, who didn't deal well with blood in general and especially not her children's blood, became hysterical.  I had to tell my sister to get her out of the room because she was just freaking out.  I got my brother to sit down and I bled out the wound as best I could.  And now that I think of it, I don't remember my father being there.  Hmm, where was he?

I also don't remember if my brother went to the doctor the next day or did anything to follow up, but he didn't get sick, so I guess I did a decent job (or maybe the spines aren't actually poisonous after all).  He developed a small lump in his palm where the spine had stabbed him, and years later he finally had to have it removed.

photo by Bébéranol

Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Genealogical or Historical Societies Have You Joined?

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver asks about our membership in groups, something I'll have to think about to answer, at least for the past ones.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  What genealogical or historical societies have you joined to pursue your family history research over the years?

2.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I am pretty sure the first genealogical society I joined was the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.  I found out about it from someone who came to the Oakland Family History Center.  That was way back about 20 years ago.  For several years that was my only membership.  I have stayed a member continuously since joining.

I was a member of the California State Genealogical Alliance from 2006 or 2007 until the group was dissolved in 2017.  In fact, I was one of the board members who voted in favor of and helped with the processing of the dissolution.

I think the next group I joined was the California Genealogical Society, in 2011, after giving a presentation to them about online newspapers.  I remained a member of CGS until I moved to Oregon.  I think my last year was 2018.

Soon after CGS I became a member of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (how's that for a mouthful?), in 2012.  That membership also ended when I moved to Oregon in 2017.

I think I was a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society for a couple of years in conjunction with having given presentations at Jamboree, but I can't remember which years.

The first group I joined after my move to Oregon was the Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon.  As I recall, I joined not long after arriving in September 2017.  I had a break in membership for about a year but returned and am currently a member.

I began participating in the African American Special Interest Group of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon also soon after I moved here, but that group is open to the public and didn't require joining officially — until I volunteered to take over as coordinator after the founder of the group stepped down.  To be a SIG coordinator, you have to be a member of GFO.  So I joined and have maintained that membership through to the present.

I was a member of the Oberlin African American Genealogy and History Group in 2020 and 2021, but I forgot to renew for 2022 and they didn't remind me.  Earlier this year I sent a message asking about current benefits of membership but was told that I would find out about benefits only after joining.  I didn't consider that the best way to market the group and still haven't decided if I'm going to renew.

I joined the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island in 2021 as a life member, so that's still current.

I was given a membership in the Virtual Genealogical Society because I gave a presentation at its 5th birthday party this year.  Hmm, I don't think I've received any messages from them since then, but it was only a month ago.

I can't recall ever having joined a historical society.

So that makes my current memberships SFBAJGS, JGSO, JGSLI, GFO, and VGS.