Sunday, May 31, 2009

Junk, Treasure, and Scrapaholics!

Wow, has it really been a whole week since my last blog! I can't believe how this past week has just flown by. We have been having unbelievably good weather here and my husband had this past week off from work so we took advantage of the weather and did some major cleanup around the outside of the house. We managed to clean out 20 years worth of 'junk' from our shed. We actually have room on the shelves and can easily access our bikes now, which is fabulous now the weather is good enough for a bike ride. Unfortunately, I didn't find any 'family treasures' hidden away -- nothing but a truck load for the dump and a truck load for the thrift shop. Still, maybe someone will pick up something at the thrift shop and count it treasure. You know what they say, "One man's junk is another man's treasure'.

Needless to say I didn't get any genealogical work done this week but I did get some scrapbooking done today. Today I went to my first scrapaholics crop. Scrapaholics is a meetup group I recently joined made up of - you guessed it - Scrapaholics!! They have a monthly crop meetup and also do swaps. It was great, I did the Birthday Card and Ribbon Swaps this month so I now have 12 yards of different ribbon and 12 wonderfully made Birthday Cards - thank you everyone! I also got a great start on a wedding album I'm making for a friend. Maybe these will become a family treasure one day for her descendants. I've posted a few pictures below.

Oh, I did also manage to find time to go to a local scrapbook store that sadly is closing it's doors in a few weeks. They have everything on sale so I thought I would take a look. I picked up another great book. (Did I mention I love books and magazines ;o)!). It's called Modern Memory Keeper: A New Approach to Scrapbooking Your Family Legacy by Ronee Parsons. We must have been cast from the same mold because her approach to scrapbooking her heritage is the same as mine. Her introduction says "Long gone are the days of accenting precious heritage photos with bland papers and embellishments. It's time to shake things up by honoring your family's life and times with a colorful new energy." Although I love the muted tones of heritage colors I have long believed that the colors of today should also be used in our albums. I like to mix things up and I let the photos decide how. Sometimes those old victorian posed photos call for a traditional style layout with muted heritage colors but sometimes using some of todays brighter colors and fabulous paper choices that we have can really bring out the photo. Especially those ones of the unsmiling, prim, older victorian people - you know the ones I mean. It's amazing what a little color can do to add some personality to these pictures. Try it sometime and you'll see what I mean. As Ronee says "Toss out the rules of heritage scrapbooking and embrace a new beginning."

Here are some of the pages (8'x8') that I did today. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our Family Photographs

Yesterday when I was out shopping I picked up a copy of Scrapbooks Etc. Photography magazine. If you're like me you want to be able to take great photos of your family that will become treasured keepsakes for future descendants. I'm always looking for ways to improve my photography, especially when it comes to 'people' pictures. I have no problem with nature photography but I struggle when taking pictures of people. I have a hard time getting the right lighting, the right pose (if I can even get them to pose!) etc. I try the candid or 'surprise' shots but never have great luck with that due to the slight shutter delay you get with digital cameras. I do like the fact that with digital cameras we can delete the bad shots, unlike the old film days where you had to print everything to get that one good photo. Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for tips for improving my photography. If you're looking to do the same without spending a lot of money I would recommend this magazine. It covers everything in very easy to understand articles as well as showing you how to use your great photographs in a scrapbook layout. Although I haven't yet had time to fully devour this magazine I can see that it's going to get lots of use. Two areas that I'm definitely going to spend some time on are in the section on taking better photos - candids and portraits. This week I'm going to challenge myself to get a really good photograph of at least one of my family members using the tips from this magazine. I'll show you the results in a future blog.
Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Photographs and Scrapbooks

Hello everyone. In my last blog I tried to give you some ideas for ensuring that future descendants don't destroy all of your precious genalogical papers and hard work. We may be passionate about what we do but our descendants may not be. Karen commented that another way to preserve your papers and photos is to donate them to your local genealogical society. This is an excellent idea if you have a good genealogical society nearby. Your descendants can still look at the records by going to the society's headquarters and the society will make sure that your photos and documents are stored properly and preserved. I think I might do that with my box of documents that includes property deeds, citizenship papers, school records, etc. There's a lot of papers included in this box and I could see a future descendant not wanting to hang onto all of that paperwork. However, I think I'm still going to try to have the Vital Records Binder and One-of-a-Kind Photo Album passed down but I'm going to add to my "Important - Do Not Destroy" label a note to say that if they are not wanted to please donate them to the local genealogical society.

Tracy asked where I got the 3-up Pioneer albums that I use to store my genealogical photographs. I found these at Costco. They came 2 in a pack and were around $18. They hold 300 photos and I like these because there is a space for writing information beside the photos. The only drawback is they are not 3-ring so you cannot add pages or move them around. I haven't seen these recently so I went onto Costco's website and I see they now have 3-ring albums. However, these only hold 200 photos, but,of course, you can add pages. They are $19.99 for a 2-pack which is still a great deal. You can see them on Costco's website.

I definitely prefer to have 3-ring albums. I recently made the switch with my scrapbooks. It makes it so much easier to move things around or add pages later on. I like the cloth ones from American Crafts but there are many others to choose from. The one disadvantage I can see is if you have 2-page spreads that join each other then you would have the rings and separation between the pages. I do 2-page spreads but the space doesn't take away from them so I'm quite happy with these albums. As I mentioned before I keep 2 family history scrapbooks. One for my husbands side of the family and one for mine. The challenge is to tell the whole story but keep them manageable especially as I start to add details of my own life and my children. Which has presented the dilema of which album do I put these in? I'm thinking I may have to start a third album or try to find a way to combine my 2 current albums into one. When I originally started this I had planned to keep no more than 2 family history albums so that it wouldn't be overwhelming for my descendants. I already have issues with my everyday scrapbooking, LOL. I think I now have 10 different albums going. Two baby albums for each of my children, two schoolday albums, a sports album, two vacation albums (with one just for Disneyland) plus one for all our camping trips, a christmas album and an 'everyday' album. And none of these are close to done or up to date! They are all 12x12 albums, so they are large and bulky and don't fit easily on a regular bookcase. As much as my family loves to look at my albums I often wonder if they would really want them all after I'm gone. That's why I've always tried to keep the family history ones down to 2. I do this by not scrapbooking every photo I have. I try to pick only the really special or good ones or the ones that really tell the story. Baby photos, wedding photos, military photos, graduation photos, etc. are the most important. Don't forget photos of old houses, cars, etc. as these really tell the story of the life and times of the people in the photos. I try to include scanned copies of certificates as well. I don't use original heritage photos in my scrapbooks. I scan the photos and have them reprinted. This is also good because you can repair damaged photos and have them printed to the size you want to use.

Below are some of my pages. One is my father-in-laws baby pictures along with his birth certificate. Then there is a 2-page spread of my mother and father in-law. I asked both of them to tell me about their life and then typed up what they had said and included it on the layout. It is important to remember to tell the story. Journaling is just as important as the pictures...but that's another blog. Then there is a 2-page spread I did for my niece when she graduated last year. When I look at these examples I find it interesting to see how much scapbooking has changed and evolved over the years. The 2 pictures of my in-laws were done about 10 years ago. Scrapbooking was a lot simpler back then. I look at these layouts now and think they are rather plain. I think I'm going to have to go through my stash and see if I can embellish them a little before putting them away again. Oh, the woes of a perfectionist scrapbooker LOL.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Up In Smoke

Hi everyone. Well today I will tell you what I found in that letter that I wrote about in my last blog that was so heartbreaking. This was a letter to my mom from a cousin in 1996. My moms cousin wrote that their great grandfather (my great, great grandfather) kept everything in the way of paperwork. Wow, talk about a great genealogical treasure! When my moms great grandfather died it was passed down to her grandfather. When he died an aunt took everything and then when that aunt died the cousins inherited everything. So far, so good. This great treasure is almost down to! But wait, those cousins weren't interested in all that paperwork and they decided to burn everything! Can you believe it? I cried the first time I read that. I would have given my eye teeth to have had all that paperwork. My great grandfather owned a pub just down the road from where Charles Dickens had grown up and was also granted the Freedom of the City. I wonder what gems may have been found amongst all those papers that ultimately ended up in smoke.

Have you caught your breath yet? Go ahead, take some time to wipe away those tears. What a tragedy it is when something like this happens. Some of you may have experienced something similar. But, has this made you think about what will happen to all the paperwork you are gathering as you work on your family history? What will happen to all the hours and hard work you have put into your family line? How will you ensure a future descendant doesn't burn all of your paperwork? It is sad to say that not everyone shares our genealogical passion and consequently we cannot guarantee that our future descendants will want all of our paperwork. However we can organize in a way that will hopefully ensure the more important papers will survive.
  1. The most important documents in genealogy are vital records - birth, marriage and death certificates. I keep these in an archival safe binder separate from all my other paperwork. I also include copies of Parish Registers. The binder is clearly labeled with its contents and I have added a sticker that says "Important Documents - Do Not Destroy". I am hoping that this will prevent any descendants from destroying these. I have also scanned all of these certificates and keep them on a DVD which I store in a different location as back up.

  2. Next I keep all other important genealogical documents such as wills, property deeds, military papers, citizenship papers and school records in a separate archival safe box. I have these papers organized by surname and again I have the box clearly labeled with its contents. I do not have a "do not destroy" sticker on this box. I will leave this decision up to my descendants although I do hope they will see the importance of these documents and decide to keep them and pass them on. I haven't yet scanned these documents and put them on DVD but I do intend to do that in the near future.

  3. I have two scrapbooks for my family history story. One for my husbands side of the family and one for my side. I will elaborate in a later post how I organize these and the type of album I like to use. I do not use original one-of-a-kind heritage photographs in these scrapbooks, I have copies made for the scrapbooks. I keep my original heritage photographs in a 3-up acid-free Pioneer Album and I have a note included that states that these are "One-of-a-Kind Heritage Photographs" and "Do Not Destroy - Keep in the Family". I have most of these pictures scanned onto DVD and stored off-site for backup. I hope that my descendants will want to keep the scrapbooks and possibly continue adding to them and passing them down. If, for some reason, they do not want the scrapbooks at least the heritage photographs should survive.

  4. I have one large "Research Binder" where I keep my Family Record Sheets (printed from my Family Tree Software) and behind each Family Record Sheet I have copies of all the supporting documentation. The reason I keep a printed record is because I don't want a descendant to inherit the Family Tree Software but not be able to read it. Technology changes so quickly and if a couple of generations passes before someone decides to carry on with the research it is a real possibility that their technology may not be able to read our DVD's. As long as no one destroys this binder the information will always be available to whoever wants it.

  5. The remainder of my research and notes are stored in binders, drawers and files. I have a filing system that works well for me and I'll elaborate more on that in future posts.

As you can tell there is a large accumulation of paper and although everything is well labeled and organized I sadly realize that it is a real possibility that my descendants may have no interest in keeping all of this work, or they just may not have the room to store it. By carefully keeping original vital records and one-of-a-kind photographs separate I am hoping that these will make it down the line for sure. They basically consist of one binder and 2 photo albums right now. I am also hopeful that my 2 scrapbooks and research binder will also make it down the line. My system is not perfect but hopefully not everything will end 'up in smoke'

I know this is hard for us passionate genealogists to think that someone may literally burn up all of our hard work but the reality is there. Take some time to think about how you keep your genealogical records. If something happened to you today would your descendants be able to identify the really important documents that should be kept from the records that perhaps are not so important to someone not as passionate as us. Or is there the possibility that a descendant could look at all that paper and think "I'm not interested in this" or "I don't have the space to keep this" and destroy everything, including vital records and photographs without even realizing it? If so, take some time today to rethink how you keep and organize your records. Don't let all of your hard work go 'up in smoke'.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Feeling Humble

So today when I logged on I saw that I had 15 followers. Wow! I've had my blog up for just over a week and already 15 people are following me...and only 3 are people I know, talk about humbling. I'm absolutely amazed. When I started this blog and my dreams of starting a genealogy scrapbooking business I thought to myself "Who else could possibly be as passionate as I am about genealogy and scrapbooking?" I have many friends who are into scrapbooking and absolutely amazing at what they do (just check out some of the blogs I follow). But only a couple of my friends also share my passion for family history and genealogy. So I really didn't expect to have more that a handful of people following my blog. Not only that, but have you seen Geneabloggers this week. They list 12 new genealogy blogs this week which, if you haven't already done so, you should check out. There are some excellent blogs listed and I am also humbled to have been included in this list. One that I especially liked was the one from Family Tree Magazine. If you are new to genealogy or are stuck at a brick wall there's a good chance you will find answers here.

Now I have to humble myself even more and make a confession. A while ago I challenged you to join me in scrapbooking the saying "Home is where our story begins". So on Saturday I went down to my scrapbooking space to start on this project. Well, before I could start I needed to clean up a few things first. Before I knew it I was into a complete overhaul and reorganization. You see, before I recently joined the local genealogy group and started this blog it had been about 4 years since I had done any real indepth research on my family roots. At the time I had hit a brick wall in my research and reached the point where the only way I was going to get any further was with a research trip back to England . I had gleaned as much as I could from the internet and now needed to get into actual parish registers to go any further. As I could not afford to return to England I had put my own research aside and spent time helping others with their research. Of course, as we all know, the internet grows and changes daily. Realizing this, I am now ready to try again and see what new information I can find, especially now that many parish registers have been put online. One of the first places I intend to start is with the 1911 census which is also now online. One of my brick walls was with my grandfather who passed away when my mother was very young. All we know about him at this point is his name was Thomas Owen and he was born in Wales. That's like trying to find John Smith born in America. Maybe the 1911 census will give us some more information. Anyway, in order to proceed I had to go through some of my old paperwork and reorganize and refocus. Suffice to say I didn't get my scrapbooking project done but I did get some important paper sorting done. While doing so I came across an old letter that my mom had received from a relative many years ago when she was researching our family history (remember the snail mail thing). In it was some news that broke my heart. I will share that news with you tomorrow because it totally changed the way I do my family history work. Brace yourselves fellow genealogists because what I will share with you will break your hearts. Some of you will have already encountered similar heartbreak and perhaps have already changed how you do things but others may reconsider how they handle things after hearing this. Stay tuned.

Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Snail Mail vs. Internet

So I've been out of commission for a few of days with a bit of a bug, or maybe it was just post playoff depression now that the Canucks are out of the Stanley Cup payoffs :(. Anyway, I did get in my visit with my mom on Monday and she loved her album. That started me thinking about how it was my mom who sparked my passion for genealogy and how much easier it is for me to research my roots than it was for my mom. My mom started tracing her roots back in the 70's shortly after we moved to Canada from England. Back then there were no personal computers, never mind the internet. Everything she did was by snail mail. She would write to the records office in England and then have to wait several weeks for a reply. Many times the reply was 'no record found' and she'd have to start all over again. Can you imagine how tedious that would be? I don't think I'd have the patience. We are so blessed to have the internet

The internet, however, as great as it is in the world of genealogy brings its own problems. How trustworthy is the information we gather from the internet? How do we deal with the mounds of information and paper we accumulate from all of our internet information? How do we back-up and protect that information? How do we make all of our hard work relevant and exciting for our descendants? Over the next few blogs I'm going to write about how I try to deal with some of these issues and maybe I'll be able to give you some new ideas or information that you will be able to use as you pursue your passion to trace your roots.

BTW...did anyone take me up on my challenge last week to create something based on the saying "Home is where our story begins"? I have some ideas in my head but because of being under the weather this week I haven't been able to physically do anything yet. I'm going to try to have something done over the weekend and I'll post it as soon as it's done. I challenge you to do the same. Good luck and happy scrapping!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there! I hope you had a wonderful day full of treats and special times with your children. I had a wonderful lunch with my family and then treated myself to a desperately needed haircut and color. My mother was going to my sisters house today so I won't see her until tomorrow. I'm going to give her a chipboard album I put together this past week of a trip we made to the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, B.C. back in 2007. It was a weekend trip we had talked about doing many times and just never got around to it. I always felt we couldn't afford it but my wonderful husband finally made me do it saying we couldn't afford NOT to. I'm so glad he did that. I have such wonderful memories of that weekend, and guess what, our budget is still as tight as ever but we never went hungry because of it! I'd love to be able to do it again but I'm not sure if my mom's arthritis would let her. Making time for family is so important, but don't forget to document those times also!

Yesterday was a great day also. My friend Dana and I had tickets to the Third Day concert in Abbotsford. We were so excited. We had scored 3rd row floor seats. It was an excellent show - rockin' and loud - just the way I like it! But what really excited me was before the show we had some time to kill and we stopped by The House of James. I saw a plaque there with the saying "Home is where our story begins". I fell in love with it but it was too expensive for my pocketbook. However, I think the saying really portrays how I feel about the importance of preserving family history. Family history is so much more than dates and names. It's the story of who we are. I think I'm going to try and complete a layout using this saying sometime this week. I challenge you to do the same. If you do, please upload your creation. I'd love to see how you interpret what this means to you. I'll upload mine when it's done also. In the meantime here's some pictures from my weekend.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ugh - Am I really that old?

So I recently found out that Port Coquitlam has a thriving genealogy club. The catch - it's at the senior center. Well, apparently anyone 50 or over can join the senior center and since I turned 50 last year I would be accepted. I have been to 2 meetings now and the butt of many family jokes (my husband has yet to hit the big 50). However, I was pleasantly surprised at how many people are involved in this club. I think there was about 15 of us at the meeting this past Wednesday. And I guess the senior center is just the meeting place, you don't have to be 50+ to come to the meetings. I was happy to see a newcomer who was clearly at least 10 years younger than me at this last meeting! I'm still not happy at knowing I am now old enough to join a senior center. For those that don't know me I will always be 18 in my mind. In fact my theme song at my 50th party was Bryan Adams "I'll be 18 til I die". If there's any doubt just take a look at my profile and my favorite music - several head banging for sure. LOL

If anyone is interested in coming to the meetings they meet the first Wednesday of every month at the Wilson Center in Port Coquitlam. Each month a different topic is covered or they may have a guest speaker. The June meeting will be all about using and getting the most out of and the bonus is it only costs $2.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I've finally entered the world of blogging

Well, I can't believe it, I've finally entered the world of blogging! I've had a lot of fun this past week creating this blog and I hope everyone who happens upon it will enjoy it. If you haven't already figured it out from my title this blog will focus on my passion - family history and preserving our family roots. In this day and age of digital technology it will be even harder for our descendants to know who we were if we don't take measures now to preserve our history. Technology changes daily and what we use today to save our family memories most likely will not be able to be used by our descendants. Remember those big 5" floppy disks? If you had saved pictures on those you would not be able to retrieve them today. Pictures on DVD's may not be retrievable 50 years from now. We live in a great age where we can take hundreds of pictures all the time documenting our family lives but what good are they if only we can enjoy them. Sometimes I regret that I don't have a lot of pictures of my ancestors. Some of them I have no pictures at all. Well this is what it may be like for our descendants if we are not careful. That's why I am so passionate about preserving not only our heritage pictures but the family pictures we take today. Digital is great but we should also have paper records of the more important pictures. We should have back ups and as technology changes we need to transfer our images over to the new technology. My goal is not only to try to trace my family history as far back as I can but to learn about how my ancestors lived and then to document and preserve that information and then add my family information to it for my descendants to enjoy. This blog will document my progress along with my other endeavors and hopefully provide some information on how you to can preserve your history for your descendants to enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.