Monday, October 31, 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sepia Saturday - From Here to There - Near East Travels

This week I am sharing more images and some ephemera from my paternal grandparents' trip to the Near East in 1938 to survey the expeditions of the Oriental Institute of which my grandfather was Executive Secretary.

My grandparents left on their adventure aboard the S.S. Rex from New York to Naples.  A caption under a blank space in the album tells me there was a developed photo of the ship at one point, but all I have for now is their Passage Contract, a map of the ship and two photos taken from on board.

After a day in Naples they sailed on the S.S. Esperia to Alexandria, Egypt. Interestingly, both ships were to be casualties of WWII.

"Top Hat" was the movie aboard the Esperia.

From Alexandria to Cairo to Luxor to visit the Institute's Epigraphic Survey. While in Luxor, one of my grandparents snapped this photo of a ship on the Nile.


Next it was back to Cairo to get a train to Palestine to visit the Megiddo Expedition. After a week in Palestine it was ten days of travel to get from Megiddo to the Persepolis Expedition in Iran. After leaving Megiddo, they slept in Damascus, Syria where this carriage took them from the hotel to the bus station.

And then it was all aboard the air-conditioned Nairn Bus, 600 miles across the desert to Baghdad.

While in Baghdad, one of them captured a photo of a double-deck horse-drawn street car.

More travel, this time from Baghdad to Kirkuk via train.

When they were on their way back to through Iraq to Syria, this 6-wheeled bus took them from Kirkuk to Mosul.

Sometime during their travels though Iran, their car ran into a little trouble.

Finally, though, it was time to start for home, beginning with a 6-day trip from Aleppo, Syria to London, England aboard the Orient Express.

Cover of the booklet that contained tickets for meals aboard the Orient Express

Stub from a meal ticket.

After eight days in London and Oxford, they sailed for home aboard the R.M.S. Aquitania.

By the time my grandparents returned to Chicago they had been gone for 111 days, spending more than a third of that time traveling from place to place. Even so, just one day after reaching the city, my grandfather was back at work at 9:00 a.m.

I am transcribing my grandfather's diaries and my grandmother's letters home and saving for a negative scanner so that one day soon, I'll be able to share their whole incredible adventure.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Review - Planning a Future for Your Family's Past by Marian Burk Wood

Disclaimer: Marian Burk Wood asked me to review her book and provided me with a free copy.

Slide and document storage.

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have been blessed with a lot of genealogical "stuff". You also know that I take very seriously the responsibility that comes with such a legacy, spending a lot of time and money to digitize and preserve my precious collection, not only for myself but for family as well.  That is why I really appreciate Marian's book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Since my father passed away in 2005, I have inherited his family photos, documents and artifacts a bit at a time as my step-mother came across things or cleaned out various rooms in their home, culminating in three car-loads that I brought home just over a year ago.  It was overwhelming, and other than the items and photos that I have digitized and photographed, it is only roughly sorted, as Marian puts it.

At the beginning of this year, I made a list of my genealogy goals and some of those goals were about digitizing, sharing and preserving my collection, but a comprehensive, long-term plan was still missing. When I had first tried to make a genealogical will over a year ago, I didn't get very far before becoming frustrated and moving on. Having read Marian's book, I now realize that I was putting the cart before the horse. With her method there were two very important tasks to complete before I could get to that step and it just makes so much sense.

Marian's PASS method has four steps - Prepare by organizing your materials, Allocate ownership, then Set up a genealogical will and finally, Share with heirs. These steps are broken down even further in the book. Although I still have a big job ahead of me, it now seems doable and much less stressful.

Each chapter in Marian's book is filled with great tips from her many years of experience in taking these steps herself. She shares many resources and stories along the way, showing us by example that organizing isn't taking away precious time from research, it can actually help us in our research, leading to discoveries we might not make otherwise. Each chapter also ends with a very useful summary, a great feature.

Planning a Future for Your Family's Past is so filled with great information that you might think you're in for a long read. Thankfully, Marian has packed all of this into a book that can easily be read at one sitting, although I'm sure I will find myself referring to it over and over as I finally prepare my precious collection for the day that I, too, as Marian says, am an ancestor.

I believe Marian's book will finally help me achieve the goal of readying my precious research and mementos for another generation, and I'm sure it can get you there, ttoo

Planning a Future for Your Family's Past is available from Amazon for Kindle and in print.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sepia Saturday - From Here to There - Camels and Donkeys and Horses, Oh My!

Now that Dad's slides and the three magnetic photo albums in my possession are scanned (just found another one - sigh!), it is finally time to scan my paternal grandparents' album from their trip to the Near East in 1938.

It broke my heart to do it, but the album was in such awful condition with the pages literally breaking whenever they were touched, that I finally made the decision to dismantle it entirely. There's something a little soulless about a collection of loose photos, maps and mementos as opposed to an album that clearly took time to assemble. Unfortunately the makers of this album did not choose materials for the inside of the album with as much care as the beautiful maroon leather cover which my grandfather had embossed with the words "NEAR EAST'.

In 1938 he was Executive Secretary of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and he and my grandmother went on a three month inspection tour of the Institute's expeditions; the Epigraphic Expedition at Luxor, Egypt, the Megiddo Expedition in Palestine, the Temple of Darius and Xerxes at Naksh-i Rustum near Persepolis in Iran and the Syrian Expedition at Allepo.

I have only just started scanning the photos from the album, and there are many more negatives which were not developed, but there are plenty of interesting photos mostly from Egypt that fit this theme.

"Guide who sang, "Yes, we have no bananas" on the way to Sakkarah.

"Dagmar with white camel"
Market Day, Luxor, Egypt

"Dagmar wading stream via horseback on way to Naksh-i Rustim, Iran.
Although I am entirely grateful to have these photos, I cannot wait until I have it in my budget to by a scanner that will digitize the large negatives from this trip. I also wish there were a photo of my grandmother on the camel on which she toured the Great Pyramids, but that happened late at night, so it isn't likely.

Next week I have more photos from this trip; cars, trains and ships

Don't forget to head on over to Sepia Saturday to see what others have posted.

A Wedding 50 Years Ago Today

My parents, Stephen David Matthews and Janet Isabella Smith, were married 50 years ago today at St. John the Divine Anglican Church in Thetford Mines, Quebec.


In addition to her veil, my mother wore a traditional gold Swedish wedding crown that belonged to one of my father's cousins. Traditionally, if the crown were to fall off of the bride's head it would be a sign that she was not "pure".

Sure enough, The Montreal Star didn't know what the crown was and dubbed it out of the photo. As you can see, my parents had some fun with that.

Even as a child I loved looking through their wedding photos and I can remember taking Mum's wedding dress out of storage when we visited my grandparents. Although their marriage ended in divorce after 13 years, I am of course grateful that they did marry and have a daughter. Whatever problems they had, I have very happy memories of those first 11 years of my life.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson - b. October 21, 1905

My paternal grandmother, Dagmar Alice Viola Anderson, was born on this day in 1905 in South Manchester, CT to Carl Johan Anderson and Mathilda Alfina Johnson. She was their third child and only girl.

Dagmar's brothers, Axel Heinrich Valdemar and Elmer Carl Ragnar, were born when the family lived in a house which they rented from their father's employer, as many of their workers did. By the time Dagmar was born, her parents had saved money to buy a parcel of land from Cheney Brothers and borrowed money from the bank to build their own multi-family home, with the family living on one side and boarders on the other.

On November 11th, 1905, Dagmar was baptized at Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Emmanuel Church.

Her baptismal certificate, beautiful but in horrible condition, was among the treasures we found in the "basement stash" last September. Soon I plan to see if a digital photo restorer can digitally stitch my scans of all the pieces together and recreate the missing sections to create a reproduction. Then I'll need to invest in an archival storage solution for the original.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back to the Genealogy Do-Over: Month 5 - Citing Sources

With all the scanning and photo preservation I've been doing the past few months, other genealogy activities have taken a back seat. I finally purchased the Kindle version of Evidence Explained a couple of months ago (I already owned a hard copy of the previous edition) and this week I finally re-read Chapter 1 and read Chapter 2. Finally.

Now I am ready to start, one person at a time, citing documents like this birth announcement for my father that I found in the "basement stash" last September and putting those citations into my research logs and into my Evidentia software for evaluation. I've had that for over a year and have not put it to use yet.

Do you use Evidentia or another tool to help you evaluate your evidence?

P.S. Speaking of Elizabeth Shown Mills. If you are a Legacy webinar subscriber she recently did an unbelievable presentation "FAN+GPS+DNA" which I watched last night as "homework" for DearMYRTLE's Wacky Wednesday webinar of the same name in which DearMYRTLE and her panelists discuss Elizabeth Shown Mills' methodology. You can find that here (with registration which allows you to see comments) or on YouTube when it's up. If you aren't a Legacy webinar subscriber you can pay to watch just this seminar, but I recommend becoming a member. You get 24/7 access to webinars old & new from great presenters on a huge range of topics for about $50 per year. Cheap at twice the price!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sepia Saturday - October 2016 Week 3 - From Here To There

The Sepia Saturday theme for this month is "From Here to There". I have some great photos for this theme in my collection, I probably could have posted for all five weeks if I weren't under the weather. This is a hastily prepared post, I'll admit, but if I continue to feel as well as I have over the past few days, I should be able to share them in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I will share a few photos that are about not getting from here to there or when the going goes wrong.

These photos are from my grandfather's albums that are about 100 years old, when he was a teenager. They are labeled simply C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) Wreck. I haven't managed to find anything about this online, but perhaps if I ever make it to a Quebec archive....


Please be sure to visit Sepia Saturday to find the other participants' links and see what they've found to share on this theme.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Another Magnetic Album Emptied

Before I start with the details of this latest album rescued I want to let you know why my posts have been so sporadic lately and may be for a few more weeks. Over the past few months I have been having G.I. issues which have greatly escalated in the past few weeks.  Now it looks as though my gall bladder may have to be removed. So, nothing very serious but definitely disruptive and now if I disappear on and off, you'll know why.

When I first took a few photos out of this album about ten years ago, I wasn't even researching my family much less did I know anything about magnetic photo albums. I was making a little "slide show" for Mum's 70th birthday party. (I had no scanner then. Donald took photos of the photos with my digital camera, which I then hooked up to the TV for a digital slideshow.)

I had no idea that removing the photos from these albums was supposed to be so difficult, that after so many years I should find the photos and the pages had fused together. I had no idea because these photos had come out pretty easily as if the adhesive had dried out almost completely.

My mother has five or so of these albums, the other four are still at her place.

I was hoping to find information about these albums online (the bottom of the flap in the photo says "CHIYODA ALBUM", but no luck.

So, although I was still very careful in removing the photos, it was a much easier process than with the other albums. Of course, there is still something to be learned when you're dealing with old albums. This time it was - Expect The Unexpected. Because just when I thought I was really cruising through it all, I was confronted with this:

Four photos which, instead of being attached to the page, were attached to the plastic covering with tape! Why? Who knows? I was not able to get anywhere with the spatula or floss here. I just had to cut the plastic sheet around the tape and let that suffice.

There is also a large class university photo attached to the back cover. After scanning, I may try to cut around it with a craft knife or I may end up saving the whole cover, not sure yet.

I'm not sure now when I'll get to the other magnetic albums, but I do hope to post on other topics this week.