Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow Friday - Citizen Archivist Dashboard

As I mentioned in this post, I love the National Archives and the terrific access to their digital collection. While researching their open source historical photos on Flickr, I found that there is a way for the average citizen to make the National Archives collection more accessible: by becoming a Citizen Archivist.

From their Citizen Archive Dashboard you can help the Archives "tag" the items in their collection to help make them easier to locate through searches. You can also help index the 1940 census, transcribe documents and upload your own photos of National Archives documents that you have come across in your research. Another option is to help edit the National Archives Wiki page by helping to edit pages or creating your own. It's a great way to give back to an organization that offers so much to the genealogy community. Check it out!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

RMS Titanic

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. I have always been fascinated by the RMS Titanic. As a little girl I owned all the children's books on Titanic that I could find at our local bookstore and I had checked out all the books at my elementary school. This fascination probably stems from all the excitement that circled around the finding of the Titanic's wreck September 1, 1985, which also happened to be my 9th birthday.
RMS Titanic during sea trials April 2, 1912.  Collection of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier) 306 RG 306.
The Titanic sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, following a close encounter with a large ice berg. Of the more than 2,200 total people on board, around 1500 died, nearly 70 percent. An interesting Titanic passenger demographic page has been created by the Ithaca College Library and is located here. While the records with information regarding the passenger, crew and survivor lists are not exact, it is clear that preferences were made to First Class passengers, rather than the typical "women and children first."
New York Herald from April 15, 1912 reports the sinking of the Titanic. The Herald was one of the first newspapers to print the news of the disasters. Part of the America Treasures of the Library of Congress
Survivors of the Titanic on board the Carpathia. Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

I'm not sure if I am more drawn to the grandeur of the Titanic or the tragedy of so many lives lost, but either way I continue to be pulled to all things Titanic. I saw the movie Titanic countless times, rebutting the friends that said: "Why? You know how it ends." The movie even furthered my fascination with the ship because it took the historical photographs I remembered, mixed them with fabulous costuming and turned it all in to a visual of the Titanic I could only previously imagine. And if you've ever wondered, RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship indicating that Titanic was an official carrier of English mail.

For more information on the Titanic, visit the following sites:

RMS Titanic, Inc., official stewards of the Titanic wreck
Titanic Expedition, hosted by RMS Titanic, Inc. Explores the upcoming expedition to the Titanic wreck
Titanic, the movie
Encyclopedia Smithsonian - Titanic
Ocean Planet, Titanic, includes numerous links to additional Titanic information

Friday, April 13, 2012

For all "real" book lovers...

I found this great video on The Two Nerdy History Girls blog. A must see for book lovers!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Traits from our Ancestors?

Last night I had a free moment and was able to sit and watch episodes of Finding Your Roots, a genealogy research series on PBS hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Each episode discovers the roots of two American celebrities and discusses the historical times their ancestors lived in.

The episode I watched featured Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey and John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights activist. In the search for Congressman Lewis' ancestors, it was revealed that his ancestor was one of the first black men in his Alabama county to vote following the emancipation of slaves in 1865. This was especially poignant for Congressman Lewis because 100 years later he fought along side Martin Luther King, Jr. to restore the vote to African Americans in the state of Alabama and across the country. His activism returned the vote to his parents that his great, great grandfather had enjoyed 100 years earlier. Lewis was visibly moved by this information and stated that taking advantage of the right to vote must be "in his DNA."

This triggered a thought for me: is it possible that we receive traits from our ancestors? It is easy for me to pinpoint the traits I received from my parents and grandparents. From my father's side I gained a "stand up and fight" attitude and my strong will. From my mother I gained my love of having fun and working hard so that you can enjoy some good times. From both sides I gained a strong work ethic. These things are easy to pinpoint because I know the people involved personally. But what of the ancestors I have never met...that my parents never met. Is it possible to receive traits from those individuals?
Florence and Margaret McGuire. What traits did I gain from these women?
I believe that it is. And in my case I believe that it is "in my DNA" to serve my country. I have countless ancestors in my tree that have served in the military. I'm sure that not all of their service records were exemplary or that their motives for joining were always admirable. But for the most part, those ancestors felt the need to serve their country or fight for whatever cause they believed in. My military roll has not been a big one and has been, luckily, uneventful. But I am the first female member of my family, on either side, to serve in the armed forces. No one will remember my time in the service, but if I make a difference to one person, to one Soldier, it doesn't matter. And someday many, many years from now one of my descendants will ask themselves what trait their ancestors passed along and if I'm lucky it will be the desire to serve for the better good.
A photo of the Frank Earl Kuhn family showing two of my many military ancestors. In the center is my grandfather, Leroy Kuhn, that served in the Army in WWII and on the far right is Edwin Kuhn who served in the Navy. Not pictured is their brother, Warren Kuhn, who served in the Army and was killed in action.

Do you believe that these types of traits can be passed on? What did you gain from your ancestors?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Leisure suit central

Warren Kuhn, Robert Happy and Scott Kuhn (little leisure suit)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday's Tips - Open source historical photographs

I am passionate about ensuring that I have visuals to go with each of my blog posts, but I always want to make sure that I have appropriate authority to post those photos on my blog without violating copyright issues. I was putting together a post today and came across some great historical photograph repositories with photographs that have no known copyright restrictions.

The Library of Congress Flickr Photo Stream

This photo stream includes images from the Library of Congress' massive collection, located on the public photo sharing site, Flickr. The stream includes Civil War images, historical newspapers, color 1930s/1940s photographs and news photos from the 1910s, plus much more. All of the photos are listed as having no known copyright restrictions, meaning that you can place them on your blog. Of course, you'll still want to attribute the photograph to the Library of Congress.

The U.S. National Archives Flickr Photo Stream

The National Archives photo stream is very robust and includes photographs and document images. You could dig around in this stream for a very long time. One of my favorite finds:
We Can Do It!  Created by the Office for Emergency Management. War Production Board. (01/1942 - 11/03/1945), Repository: Still Pictures Unit at the National Archives at College Park
Note that just because an image is on Flickr doesn't mean you can place it on your blog free and clear. Each contributor chooses how to license their images on the site. On Flickr the licensing information in on the right side of the screen for each photograph.
In this sample, the photographer retains all rights to the photograph. Other users, such as photographs taken by the U.S. Army, are posted as "Some Rights Reserved." This indicates that you are free to use the photograph, but you must attribute it to the original author. If the usage of a Flickr image is unclear, feel free to contact the owner and ask for more information. I found a great photo on Flickr and sent an email to the owner stating how I wanted to use it and they granted their permission (though I got the impression they were very surprised that I asked). For more information on licensing visit the Creative Commons website.
Wikimedia Commons

This site includes more than 12 million freely usable images. It is not restricted to historical images, although the National Archives also posts its images on this page. I have found this to be a useful site to get photographs of locations that I mention on my blog, such as this great photograph of Kansas City:
While the images on this site are free for use, some do indicate specific usage guidelines. Underneath the photograph in this site you will find the "Permission" rights.
Note that the owner of the Kansas City photo above has indicated that the photo may be used without any restriction. Other photos have more restricted permissions.
In the above sample, the owner of the photograph states that the photo must be attributed to them. When using Wikimedia Commons always be sure to determine the licensing of each individual photo, as they vary by contributor.

The bottom line is that if you have not taken a photo, always question whether or not you can use it free and clear. These photo sites will offer you some new options for adding visuals to your blog. And, if you're handy with a camera, think about contributing some of your photos to the greater good! What photo resource sites have you used?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sentimental Sunday - Easter memories

Easter was always a family holiday at our house and every year was the same. The morning would start with an "indoors" easter egg hunt for my brother and I at our house. This egg hunt was done with the real eggs that we had boiled and dyed...very important to find them all! Following breakfast we would head to church. This is one of the two days of the year I could be found in a dress. Immediately after church we would drive to my grandparent's house in Richmond, Missouri. The first thing we did was get a family photo in our Easter finest.
Warren, Cathy, Scott and Heather Kuhn on Easter circa 1986.
Then it was fast and furious to get in to play clothes. My grandmother would make some amazing food, usually a ham, and we would gorge ourselves on the main dish and my favorite, deviled eggs.

Then came the best part of the day: the Easter egg hunt.
Pre-hunt excitement. Heather Kuhn, Scott Kuhn, Cathy Kuhn, Christina Happy, Tabby Happy and Mary Happy.
The hunt is on.
Our Easter egg hunt was not your everyday adventure. No sir. And this was because my uncle Brent was in charge of hiding the eggs. This meant that there were some crazy difficult eggs to find...usually for my brother's enjoyment.
My brother getting one of the more creatively placed eggs.
It's been many years since I have spent Easter with my family. Man, I miss those days.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Follow Friday - Steve Morse One-step webpages

I've used the great tools on Steve Morse's website, One-Step Webpages, for quite some time but browsing the 1940 census using his 1940 Census ED Finder brings my love to a whole new level. Case in point: I am searching for my husband's Italian relatives in the Bronx. That is a massive search area and by using the enumeration district finder tool on Steve's website, I was able to easily narrow down my search to the correct district. They are not located in the same place as 1930, but by using the tool on Steve's website I saved hours of fruitless searching to learn the same thing.

This web page is essentially a specially designed search engine, with unique search options for different items related to genealogy research. Using the tools on the site you can easily search for ancestors in immigration records, censuses and even vital records. It is a must-have tool for your 1940 census research.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stealing my stuff

When Thomas MacEntee wrote about his Geneabloggers content being "splogged" towards the end of March, I read the post, but I didn't think it had any real relevance to me. That is until I received a "Google alert" that showed my content on another blog. It was not attributed to me, just simply cut and paste. Luckily, I had retained some of the information from Thomas' post. I headed to Geneabloggers to check out Thomas' post on 20 March 2012 and the Geneabloggers' Blog Copyright and Content Theft page for tips on how to deal with the situation. Thomas MacEntee has graciously offered to let us "borrow" the wording from his own Cease and Desist letters. I could not find any way to contact the blog owner via email, so instead I posted a comment on their blog, which is hosted by TypePad. I'm so grateful to Thomas for providing this guidance and helping our blogging community maintain control over our own content.

I'm also glad that I set up Google alerts for my blog. For more information on how to do this yourself visit the Google Alerts homepage. You can set up "alerts" for whatever topic you choose, be it your blog's name, a family name you are researching, or even the titles to your blog posts. When you set up an alert, Google temporarily scans the Internet for new results on topics you choose. You will then receive an email with a list of the results.

I have set alerts for my blog's title and a few surnames, but now I'm thinking I'll also set up alerts for some of my blog posts. I work too hard on writing my blog for it just to be stolen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Happys and Kuhns

I'm not sure what occasion my family is gussied up for here, but my guess would be Easter 1974 or 1975. From left to right: Warren Kuhn, Cathy Kuhn, Mary Happy, Brent Happy and Scott Kuhn in front.