Saturday, October 1, 2016

4 Ways To Celebrate Family History Month Online

October is Family History Month in the US


Family History has its very own month, how will you celebrate? A family reunion? Visiting an ancestral location? Sharing old photographs with your family? How about listening to stories of your renegade or outlaw ancestors (the best!)? The choices are almost endless.

Family History Month - Desperately Seeking Surnames

I will be observing Family History Month socially, online. With my family residing coast to coast, online sharing options will reach the most family members. 

I've singled out four options that will make it easy for you to spotlight your favorite, and not so favorite, ancestors and share them with your family.

4 Ways To Celebrate Family History Month 

31 Days To Better Genealogy - version 2.0 

Amy Johnson Crow has rolled out version 2.0 of her highly successful 31 Days To Better Genealogy program and it's better than ever. Sign up to get a daily email containing your action items.

Genealogy Photo A Day

Head over to Instagram and participate in Genealogy Girl Talks Photo A Day meme. Melissa Dickerson has created prompts for the month to inspire your photo sharing.

Genealogy Photo of the Day

The Genealogy Blog Party

 Elizabeth Swanay O'Neal has been hosting good ole blog parties and the October theme will not disappoint. Prepare for something strange.

The Genealogy Blog Party

Take part in Pinchat on Twitter

For those who love Twitter, you know all about Twitter chats and how much fun they are. Pinchat is focused on best practices, tips and tools for Pinterest. The hosts of Pinchat, Kim Vij and Kelly Lieberman asked ME to guest host a family history themed chat. Please join me!

Pinchat for Family History

However you choose to honor, recognize or share your ancestors stories, just be sure you do. It is too easy for family stories to go undocumented and eventually be forgotten.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Decendants Often Hold The Key

The Descendants Often Hold The Key


This is not a new concept. This isn't the first, second or tenth time you have read a blog post about the concept of researching the family, the entire family unit. We are directed to look into the friends, the associates and the neighbors for clues and information. This method was coined the FAN Principle by Elizabeth Shown Mills. You will have also heard this approach referred to as collateral or cluster research.

I know this too. Yet, it seems I put this practice into place only when all else fails. It's time to change my way of thinking and approach to collateral research for good this time.

From personal collection.

My Allen Ancestors

I've posted many times about my Allan / Allen ancestors. They are my Mother's maternal line. I've documented the Allen family living for many years in and around Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky. 

In 2011 I posted the photo above as a Wordless Wednesday post and listed the potential people the photo references. This photo was from my Grandpa Allen's photo album. The writing on the photo says "Grandmother & Aunt." But which side of the family? The Allen side or Grandpas maternal Scott side?

The possibilities listed were correct and now I know who they are. 


One evening while randomly looking at my family tree on Ancestry I, for some unknown reason, decided to look more closely at the other children of my 2nd Great Grandmother Martha Ecton. Right? Look at the family, the whole family and that includes the children. Because children grow up and they create records too.

Alice Scott was listed as a possibility for the Aunt in the photoI began with searching the census for Alice Scott using Ancestry. I did know now if or when she may have married. Now worries in this situation, Alice made finding her easy by staying single her entire life.

Alice Scott 1940 Census Desperately Seeking Surnames

1940 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1940; Census Place: Winchester, Clark, Kentucky; Roll: T627_1295; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 25-14, digital image,, accessed 13 August, 2016.

The 1940 census was the first result of my search for Alice. Look who is living with her, Lutie Scott, who I had listed as Liota Scott in my tree. Lutie is correct I've confirmed since. Two single sisters living together at 220 South Burnes in Winchester Kentucky.

Google Maps And Genealogy Go Hand In Hand

Two minutes later, I'm on Google Maps looking at the Street View version of the house as it stood on May 2012 when Google took the photo.

220 S. Burns Ave Winchest Kentucky Allen / Scott Family
Google, May 2012, 220 South Burns Avenue, Winchester, Kentucky, Retrieved August 13, 2016,

I began backtracking in the census with Alice and found Alice, Lutie (Loita is Lutie her death certificate confirmed) and Martha Scott living together at 220 Burns Avenue in the 1930, 1920 and 1910 census. I found more family members together in the 1900 census (including father Thomas) in the same district but the census didn't list the street names unfortunately.

I can now identify one person in the photo. The Grandmother referenced is Martha Ecton Scott. The Aunt is either Alice or Lutie Scott.

This information has been out there waiting to be found. Until I decided to see what was going on with Alice though, this information remained hidden from me.

Lesson learned, again, family history research is about the family not one individual. Researching the family as a whole can not only provided needed information, it provides a more interesting picture of how, who and where our ancestor(s) lived.

More Information on the FAN Principle

If you would like to learn more about the FAN Principle or Cluster Research you may want to review these resources.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

God Bless The USA 2016

God Bless The USA 2016

I love celebrating this holiday, there is so much behind it that I appreciate. I have ancestors that fought for our freedom and family members that continued to defend it.

Happy Birthday America, you truly are the Land Of The Free, Because Of The Brave.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tagging To Organize Your Digital Family Documents

Stop the Madness and Organize Your Digital Family History Documents

In the highly digital world we live in today, it's easy to accumulate large quantities of digital files and images. When I say large quantities, I mean thousands of photos and documents, it's crazy, it's madness.

Using Tags To Organize Your Digital Family Documents and Photos Step by Step on Your PC

My smart phone automatically syncs images I take with a folder I have designated in Dropbox called Camera Uploads. Of course, my intention is to always process that folder and file the images where they really need to go to aid in easy retrieval at a later date.  

Not one to kid myself, for too long anyway, that processing rarely takes place. Often what is a manageable task in the beginning soon becomes an unwieldy beast when left unattended for too long. Being faced with a beast or walk away, I tend to walk away and leave it for another day.

Windows Folder With Digital Files Details VIew

No more! I was tired of wasting time looking for photos or documents in the long, long list. I read an article about batch processing graphics for blog posts (make 5 or 6 images at a time rather than only as needed) and that's when I decided I needed to batch process my digital images.

I'm not a folder type of person, the hierarchy ends up being too nested for me. In Evernote I rely on tags, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Evernote's powerful search to find what I am looking for. Time to employ the same tactics everywhere.

Organizing In Your Windows Folders

I reached out to Dropbox via Twitter to ask if their was a way to mass tag photos using Dropbox. They very nicely told me no, but appreciate that would be a great enhancement. I quickly saw that I don't need to perform the tagging in Dropbox, I can do it right from Windows.

Your image folder probably looks like this. For ease in illustrating my steps, I will be working in the details view as displayed in the image above. The same steps apply using either view.

Windows Folder With Digital Family History Douments

Step 1: Select The Images You Want To Organize

Select a large blocks of images with a left click of your mouse on the first image, hold down the shift key and then left click on the last image. Once your selected images are highlighted, right click to open the menu and select Properties. You will then see the Properties dialog box.

Step 2: Assign a Tag

Click on the Details tab that is at the top of the dialog box, then position your mouse to the right of the word Tags and left click. You will see that you can now type in the tag you wish to assign to these files.

Step 3: Select OK on the Properties Dialog Box

After you select OK, you will see the tags you have assigned to the photos. You can then repeat these steps for all of your files. Thus batch tagging large groups of files as you have time.

Once you have tags assigned, you can search, sort and filter by those tags as well. I've selected mostly broad tags just to get myself started. I can then go back and add more detail if I choose to.

Search Sort Filter By Tags

Give batch tagging a try to get some forward movement in organizing your family history files.