Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Orphan Trains A Missed Part Of My American History

Do you have Train Riders in your family tree?

Christina Baker Kline's novel Orphan Train has captured my undivided attention recently. The book is sad and funny, thoughtful, scary and poignant. However, the emotion that I feel more than anything is disbelief.

An estimated 250,000 thousand children were placed on trains, from the east coast, and sent west to their new home and families. I had no idea so many children were placed and, from what I understand, the orphans would be shocked at that number as well. Their worlds did not extend past the train they were on. They had no knowledge that so many other children were facing the same journey as themselves.

I had seen advertisements for Orphan Train on Amazon and heard snippets of conversations about it here and there and was mildly curious. It wasn't until I heard an interview with the author on the GenealogyGems Podcast that I sat up and took notice. The book is good, very good. It's a novel based on research of actual train rider stories.

Could I have train riders in my family?

I immediately started wondering about my family. Do I have any unknowns? Any individuals that may have simply appeared or were born in a state different from the rest of the family? Do I have any known family members that were said to be adopted during that time frame? I do. 

I have research to do and have found several resources to get me started.

  1. National Orphan Train Complex
  2. Orphan Trains of Nebraska
  3. Kansas Orphan Train Timeline
  4. Orphan Train Bibliographies
  5. A History of the Orphan Trains

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A New Dress For My Blog? No, A Whole New Wardrobe!

What's better than getting a new dress and a pair of shoes? Getting a whole new wardrobe!

Almost a year ago I mentioned it was time to freshen things up a bit. Move with the times and show I have grown as a blogger. In July it will be six years for Desperately Seeking Surnames!

When i started this blog, I had no idea where it would take me nor did I image this longevity. I still consider myself an "occasional blogger" as consistency in posting doesn't happen often.

It took me several months to complete this redo. I investigated switching to WordPress, and using a modern looking layout. Ultimately I decided that Blogger meets my needs just fine and Arial font on a white background is not my personality.

That's when the fun started. I began doodling to capture what message I wanted my blog design to convey. A lot of time was spent looking at blogs and capturing designs I liked as well as those I didn't. I organized everything on a secret Pinterest board. Once I had arrived at the picture in my mind I started buying the individual digital elements.

My decision to hire a professional designer to put it all together was relatively easy. I talked to three different designers before I chose Dee at UrbanCreativeStudio. She was easy to work with, took my rambling messages and random digital elements and created the look and appearance I was looking for.  Dee also created coordinating header graphics for my Twitter and G+ profiles.

I am ready for my next six years of blogging and finding the families belonging to the Surnames I Seek. While I may remain an occasional blogger, I do hope to blog with more intention and put forth more effort towards the mechanics of blogging and my blog.