Category Archives: preserving family history

A Fun Photo Discovery

A Fun Photo Discovery

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn

SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

I was able to date (my 2 x Great Grandmother’s) Lucy Adams Leighty’s dress from researching and presenting my program several times on “Contemporary Fashion through the Decades – How to Identify Our Ancestors’ Timelines  by What They Wore, When”.   I am learning the time periods of some of the historic styles by sight.

Here is Lucy Adams Leighty’s 1897 dress:

Lucy Adams dress 1Lucy Adams dress 2Lucy Adams dress 3Lucy Adams dress 4

My sisters and brother have been working on a 600+ pages family photograph book; Chris is creating the book, all of us donated photographs, two of us (Melodie and I)  are editing and doing genealogy research (as fast as we can) to fill in gaps, and I have been writing family stories about our ancestors based on research.  So much for waiting until I semi-retire someday and have more time to do all that!  🙂
Greg, our third cousin from Pennsylvania, has been invaluable in donating old family photographs and filling in family history.  We connected due to an Ancestry.com DNA test match.
If the “book” is ever published on paper, we would have to split it into 2 books.  The cost would be about $1 per page through the program that my sister is using.  We may just print one copy and give everyone else a DVD or electronic version.  What a great way to preserve family history.  The very last revision needed from me was to write a story to go with these photos.
My niece Andrea had done research on this dress for her college costuming history class.  She had surmised that Lucy made the special dress for her own wedding (in 1867).  This is not the correct style for that time period.  And Andrea had put in examples of 1890s dresses. 
Hint – don’t let preconceived notions of family stories detract you from the evidence, “i.e. “This must have been Gt Gt Grandma’s (1867) wedding dress.”  Keep your mind open to see the possibilities.  Look for clues and pieces of the puzzle that fit together.
While writing this history story last night, I discovered the fun photo discovery:
I was right – the dress is from 1897!  Lucy sewed the dress for her to wear as mother-of-the-bride at her daughter’s wedding!
Lucy Adams (probably) beautifully sewed this dress herself.  It’s style of fitted sleeves with a small puffed upper “leg of mutton” is from about 1897, when Lucy would have been age 60.  She married William Smith Leighty on March 29, 1867. They had five children in 20 years. Lucy and her husband were farmers in Morgan, Ohio.
Lucy may have worn a small bustle with the dress, as the back is longer by about an 1 1/2 inches.  It has a one-piece fitted bodice with hook and eye closure, and full skirt which was a little less full than the style (as a cost savings?)  The special fabric – a print of white flower sprigs on dark blue/black,  and the black lace collar, indicate that she made it for a special occasion, probably her daughter Annetta’s wedding.
One of Lucy’s children was our paternal Great Grandmother Annetta Leighty Jewison.  Annetta married Charles Oscar Jewison on February 17, 1897, in McDonough, Illinois. They had three children during their marriage, including our paternal grandmother Muriel Helen Jewison Ruthe.
Great Great Grandma Lucy would have used this as a Sunday dress afterward.
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How to Save Photographs that have been Water-Damaged

How to Save Photographs that have been Water-Damaged

Vicki’s note – a timely group of instructions from Flip Pal Scanner company.  If I bought one scanner, I would like to buy the Flip Pal for it’s many features and portability.

 There are many links to free classes and instructions on how to protect your photographs before a storm, and how to save your water-damaged photographs after the storm.  Read the entire article here.

Photos matter in the aftermath of disaster.

9-15-2017
With September being Save Your Photos Month and recent epic storms along the south of the US, the topic of preparedness is front and center yet again. The Flip-Pal team is committed helping people prepare for natural disasters and everyday accidents that could wipe out their photos.
Reserve your spot in one of five live webinars and take the steps to protect your photo collection and preserve your family history for generations to come.

This new mini-course called Working With Water Damaged Photos is presented by the Association for Personal Photo Organizers and Certified Personal Photo Organizer Kathy Stone of Calgary Photo Solutions who has first hand experience in dealing with flooded photos.

This mini-course is free and available to everyone. You can enroll at anytime and watch the course immediately. Also available is a Disaster Help Resource Guide with general photo recovery tips as well as local resources.

Happy Scanning!
The Flip-Pal team

Where is the Book on My Family?

Where is the Book on My Family?

Find Your Family Online in Digital Books

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Find Your Family Online in Digital Books

 

… Here are the best places to look for digital books about genealogy.

Google Books

Launched in 2004 as “Google Print,” Google Books now contains over 25 million scanned book titles.

Internet Archive

The appropriately-named Internet Archive began in 1996 with the goal of archiving the Internet, but the project soon expanded into providing digital versions of other published works. … Most books are offered in several different formats, including DAISY files for the print-disabled.

HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust (pronounced “haw tea”) is a partnership of several academic and research institutions offering a collection of over 15 million titles from libraries around the world. Books that are uncopyrightable (i.e., some government works) or in the public domain …

FamilySearch

The Family History Books collection at FamilySearch contains more than 325,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of family history libraries such as the Allen County Public Library and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. …

MyHeritage: Compilation of Published Sources

One of MyHeritage’s best-kept secrets is their repository of digitized books. All are free to access, and you don’t even need to log in with a free account! …  To learn more about the digital books at MyHeritage watch the free Legacy webinar – Book Matching Technology at MyHeritage.

…Genealogy Gophers

Despite the funny name, Genealogy Gophers offers access to more than 80,000 digitized “family histories, regional and local histories, genealogy magazines, how-to books, gazetteers, newsletters, and medieval histories.” … developed specifically for “identifying real people named in genealogy books.”…

 

Elizabeth O’Neal is a freelance writer, educator, and web developer. An avid genealogist for three decades, Elizabeth writes the blog My Descendant’s Ancestors, where she shares family stories, technology and methodology tips, and hosts the monthly “Genealogy Blog Party.”

Stateline Travelers Part 9 -A “Shack Beautiful” Cinderella Story and Me; The Very Modest Cottage

Stateline Travelers Part 9 –

A “Shack Beautiful” Cinderella Story and Me;

The Very Modest Cottage

July 9, 2017

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Part of an On-going Series – Stateline Travelers

This Posting of the Stateline Travelers is the story that caused me to start this series about “people” moving across state lines, (and my series “Other Travelers”), in the first place.  Stateline Travelers Part 9 A “Shack Beautiful” Cinderella Story and Me; The Very Modest Cottage was only going to be one Post, but I realized it was linked to so much more.  The Posts in the Other Travelers Series are stories that are connected to me, but are other than stateline experiences.

If you remember, I have connections from south central Wisconsin (Walworth and Rock Counties) all the way down to central western Illinois (Winnebago, McHenry, and McDonough Counties).  The other Posts in the series have gotten us to the point where I can finally segue way into my connections to this little shack.  In this case, the “person” who moved across state lines is a building.  This particular building has a unique connection to me, and other people that I know.

Hint- studying a building’s history can tell you a lot about the people who are associated with the building. Did you know that you can do genealogy of a building, house, or place?

Patrons come to the Beloit Public Library all of the time to look up the history of their houses.  Sometimes it is to see who is haunting it!  Sometimes it is just to know more about the people who had resided in it before them, and to see how old it is.  We have some nice big maps and City Directories of Beloit throughout history.

Illinois Map of How to Get to Beardstown_thumb

 The Very Modest Cottage and Me

The cottage started its travels in Beardstown Illinois, which is along the Illinois River and about 38 miles north of my childhood Table Grove area farm home.  I grew up hearing “Beardstown”  in the local news and weather.  I will have to ask my Mom what events we attended there in my childhood.  I am remembering fish fry picnics there.  Even though we moved when I was 7, we visited my paternal grandmother many times per year in Table Grove.

In Sugar Creek Township, north of Elkhorn, there is a very modest cottage near where I live now .  The shack was moved from Beardstown (central) Illinois north across the stateline 200 miles to its new home and sixth life.

cottage

Tereasa had come across the shack while visiting her grandmother in Beardstown.  When Tereasa bought the shack, she did an extensive search for its history with countless interviews of locals, and the genealogy search of library and courthouse records to get accurate history.  She discovered 6 previous lives of her shack, and several previous moves!

“A Very Modest Cottage”, by Tereasa Surratt, is a beautiful book full of tales and photographs about the history, moving, remodeling, decorating, and transformation of a shack into a cozy, welcoming guest cottage in a new location.  It is inspiration for the methods, and a final keepsake, of how you can trace the history of your own house.  Her book tells the stories of two locations.

cottage book back

You can get a better feel for whom your ancestors were by discovering the places that they lived in and how local, national, and world events and history affected their life decisions and experiences.

I did that very thing, by reading the Morgan County, Ohio history “mug” book on our WHS Wisconsin Historical Society trip, to find out more about my elusive ancestor Thomas Campbell and his wife Mary Jane Adams.

On our WHS fieldtrip 2 years ago, I thought I had traced them back to Ireland.  The WHS librarian advised me to try a different family in the interest of time, as those names in Ireland would be too numerous to search effectively until I learned more.  He also knew that the Pennsylvania County that I was looking for had not been created yet.

Hint – ask the staff as you research at societies and libraries.

Of course the librarian was right. I have since found that it was a few more generations back to when that family had “crossed the pond” from Scotland to America.  I traced my relatives from Pennsylvania to Ohio where Thomas Campbell had a connection to the Underground Railroad.  (Read “Other Travelers Part 9 – The Underground Railroad and Me; My Ancestor Thomas Campbell was an Abolitionist!” posted on June 29, 2017).  Search “travelers“ to find the other Postings in my two series “Stateline Travelers”, and ”Other Travelers”.

As a librarian, reader, writer, photographer, and creative person, I just appreciate a beautiful book and Tereasa’s creativity and work.

cottage book front

The Beloit Public Library staff was so delighted with my copy of the book, that they purchased two copies – one for the Genealogy collection, and one to check out. It is a how to book on researching the genealogy of a building.

The modest 91/2″ X 7 1/2″ book of 175 pages reflects the 12ft x 12 ft 1920s shack, yet it is such a little gem of a book that you may want a copy for yourself.  $25 at:

www.averymodestcottage.com

or   www.sterlingpublishing.com

Yes, I do know Tereasa because she lives in the area near me – in the summer and weekends.  She and her husband David Hernandez are also stateline travelers – from their jobs at an Ad Agency in Chicago to their private “country resort”, Camp Wandawega.

cottage fabric

The Modest Cabin is one of their many resort residences that one can rent for a vacation get-away –   “private, vintage pair of cabins overlooks the lake and wetlands, nestled within the legendary Wandawega Lake Resort, aka Camp Wandawega.    Lake Wandawega  http://www.wandawega.com/

I am getting to know this whole area of Walworth County.  There are a lot of great historic stories that I will be posting here.  And it started with this gem.

 

Rural Cemetery Studies

Rural Cemetery Studies

7-3-2017

Vicki’s note – a quote I read from another on-line source that I found. I am including the entire addendum from the on-line book.  However, I could not find out who did the 2012 revision of this priceless 1970s publication.  My hat’s off to any and all (Find-a-grave, Boy Scout, etc.) volunteer photographers,  restorers, and researchers who find and preserve genealogical information for the rest of us.

I also love his quote about those ancestors, “…who dared to settle the prairie lands of western Illinois and raise their families.”

Read this just to know how lucky we are to have the Internet and computers to aid us in our research.

Hint – google on-line.  You may just find the very exact resource you need for the tiny area that you are researching.:

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RURAL CEMETERIES OF McDONOUGH COUNTY, ILLINOIS

VOLUME VII
NEW SALEM -ELDORADO
BY DUANE LESTER
GOOD HOPE, ILLINOIS
PRINTED BY
SCHUYLER –BROWN HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
AND
THE SCHUYLER JAIL MUSEUM

http://genmarker.com/McDonough/RuralCemVols/Vol07Rev.pdf :

” a monument is erected not because a person died, but because a person lived”

“ADDENDUM
Mr. Lester’s Magnum Opus is nothing short of monumental. It is not easy to gain access to many of these historic family burial sites. By the time of Mr. Lester’s survey (1970’s) numerous plots were long left abandoned, overgrown with trees and weeds and monuments under attack by weather, livestock, vandals, and property owners who did not care about the burial sites of McDonough County’s brave pioneers.
Thankfully, we now (2012) have laws to protect our county’s historical legacy and these final resting gardens.
I am in awe of Mr. Lester for his transcriptions of hard – to – read tombstones and his laborious typing of his 18 Volumes of the Rural Cemeteries of McDonough County. He did not have access to a computer. In addition to transcribing information from tombstones, he had to painstakingly access county records (e.g. 1840 county tax list), federal census records, and local newspapers requiring a great deal of time and effort.
As a genealogist in 2012, I have access to the internet with fast access to US Census
records, Family Search (records kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints) and numerous other legal documents, books, and family journals.
Mr. Lester used an old-fashioned key – strike, ribbon tape typewriter where mistakes
were hard to correct and appear as overstrikes. There are very few attesting to his skill as a typist.
What an US Census record will not contain are the names and dates of infants who died between census surveys. Mr. Lester’s tombstone records give names and dates of children, whose lives were brief, but would otherwise be lost to history without his efforts. Frequently, he provides names of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers that allows for completion of family group sheets.
Another work of love for those who dared to settle the prairie lands of western Illinois and raise their families is being performed by Dr. A. Gil Belles. He has been able to install signs for each of these rural cemeteries and provide GPS (Global Positioning System) information making it easier for anyone wishing to visit a rural cemetery to help them actually find it.
Gil also works closely with Boy Scouts and other civic groups to help cleanup, clear brush and dead trees, locate buried tombstones, and restore stones. My revision of Mr. Lester’s document will provide information on all cemetery restoration projects.
Any changes made to Mr. Lester’s original work was done in blue color font. His maps were scanned and copied into the text and remain like his original work and are not subject to editing.
His text was transcribed using MS Word, enabling me to control font size and color. Retyping text also leaves room for typo errors. Mr. Lester’s rare typo errors are corrected but not displayed in blue. This MS Word document allows on -the – fly editing of any “Notes, Corrections, Additions, and Changes” found at the end of every cemetery. This was Mr. Lester’s intent to produce a working document and improve accuracy about the information on those buried.
I have retyped state abbreviations as they are now used (e.g. IL, instead of Ill.). On 1840 county tax lists I omitted cents (e.g. $140, instead of $140.00). The current MS Word font uses less space, thus, placing more text per line. This shrinks his documents and reduces pages. This , then, changes page numbering in each Table of Contents.
Cemetery locations are also found on the internet. See: McDonough County Illinois Cemeteries http://graveyards.com/graveyards/IL/McDonough

Other Travelers Part 9 – The Underground Railroad and Me; My Ancestor Thomas Campbell was an Abolitionist!

Other Travelers Part 9 –

The Underground Railroad and Me;

My Ancestor Thomas Campbell was an Abolitionist!

(Part of an On-going Series – “Other Travelers”)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

June 29, 2017

Thomas Campbell

 

My paternal Grandmother Muriel Ruthe’s maternal Great Great Grandfather Thomas Campbell (1786 Pennsylvania – 1858 Morgan County, Ohio) was an abolitionist, i.e. “one who before the Civil War had agitated for the immediate, unconditional, and total abolition of slavery in the United States.”  The July  1787 “Ordinance of Freedom” for the Ohio Territory, Article 6 stated that there would be no slavery, but that slavery owners could claim their runaway slaves in Ohio.

From about 1820, Morgan County was part of the Underground Railroad.  In 1842, 16 slaves were escaping from Wood County, Virginia.  They stopped at a Station near James Coles on the river near McConnelsville.  They also hid in Jehu Coulson’s tobacco house, Issac Clendenin’s house, Joshua Wood’s house and, Esquire Lint’s office.  Their owners, Mr. Henderson, and O’Neil Summer of Virginia, offered a $3,000 reward for their capture.  They requested a search warrant.

Several men from the area stalled the owners by talking, and about 30 rode horses in opposite directions to confuse the pursuers, while the slaves escaped.  The owners, and their men, posted guards west of Deacon Wright’s, and at Campbell’s Mill to keep watch at the junction of two main roads. (Thomas Campbell and Henry Moore had an early mill on Island Run.)

The slaves were led on a branch route a short distance down from Island Run, then up to the head of Brush Creek, and then to thick brushwood near the mouth of the Moxahala River.  There they were met by an Underground Railroad Train Conductor from Putnam, and got away.

From 1842 – 1861 Morgan County assisted 285 “Negros” to gain freedom!   (I think Thomas Campbell, even though old and slower then at age 56, either rode with the other men to confuse the pursuers; convinced the owners to set a guard near his Mill because he knew a shortcut behind it for the slaves; or maybe led the slaves partway on the shortcut to continue to their freedom.   I am very proud of him.)  Who knew Ohio was such a hotbed of abolitionists?

This information is from Morgan County, Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Some of  It’s Pioneers and Prominent Men”, by Charles Robertson, M.D., revised and extended by the publishers, Chicago, L. H. Watkins and Co, 1886.  It took reading most of the book to glean the 2 historical references to my ancestor Thomas Campbell.  He was not prominent enough to pay for a separate biography.   I found the book at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison, WI.  It is time for another trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania, etc. via (WHS) Wisconsin next year.

Hint – read about the history of your ancestor’s places, and you may find them!  And photocopy, photograph, scan, or take neater handwritten notes than I did.  There may be some mistakes here, as I had very little time before the library closed, and about 400 pages to skim through.  I was so happy to find it, and love Historic County Histories.  Look here for the WHS catalog to see what else they have.

 

Using Your Smartphone Camera for Genealogy

Vicki’s note – very helpful article from Family Tree Magazine:

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Using Your Smartphone Camera for Genealogy

Caught on Camera: Smartphone Camera Tips
6/13/2017
Learn to use your smartphone to capture high-quality photos of genealogy records, relatives, gravestones and family homes.

When was the last time you used an actual, dedicated digital camera to take photos? If you’re like most of us, your smartphone has replaced your old point-and-shoot digital camera. If you got your phone within the past few years, it likely offers a high-resolution camera with sophisticated algorithms to compensate for the small sensor and lens size. That small size makes your smartphone easy to keep in a pocket or purse and capture friends, family and genealogy resources at any time. And if you have a data plan, it’s also easy to instantly sync these photos to the cloud.

Your smartphone is the ideal tool to “photocopy” microfilm records and library books, preserve images of ancestors’ gravestones, take snapshots of all 45 people at your next family reunion, and record the homes and other buildings that form the backdrop for your family’s story. Most of us rarely get opportunities to capture these important genealogy images, so you want to make sure you do it right the first time. Follow these tips to get the perfect shot when taking five types of family history photos.

Microfilmed record

A few inexpensive accessories can turn your smartphone camera into a portable microfilm scanning machine, and make your library research time more efficient. No more waiting for a turn at the scanner-equipped film reader or taking laborious handwritten notes. Not all libraries permit cameras, so check with the librarian before you go. Here’s how to do it:

  • For best results, use a small flexible tripod or a clamp with a smartphone mount. I like the Joby GripTight Mount and GorillaPod tripod, which securely holds my cell phone and has bendable legs I can attach to the upper hood of the microfilm reader desk.
  • A remote shutter release like the CamKix prevents “camera shake” when you press the shutter.
  • Position the camera to aim straight down over the reader projection surface. Eliminate glare or reflection by placing a large sheet of plain white paper onto the projection surface. Adjust the microfilm reader lens to sharpen the projected image.
  • Turn off your camera flash and close apps you aren’t using to help conserve power. Take a few test shots before you get started on your project. Make sure the image is sharp and clear, and includes the entire page. If necessary, brighten or darken the film reader lamp to minimize glare.
  • When you start a new roll of film or a new section of records on the same roll, take a photo of the film box and file number or of the source information on the title page. You can use the photo to create a source citation in your research log.

Books, documents and photos

Smartphone cameras are often a better solution than flatbed scanners or photocopiers for digitizing fragile or bound books at the library, and you don’t have to worry about running out of change. When you’re surprised with a photo find at a relative’s house, your smartphone may be all you have to reproduce it. Multiple documents, maps, and other papers can be digitized quickly and with excellent results using a smartphone camera. Remember to ask permission before photographing library materials. Turn off your flash if required (it often causes glare, anyway).

  • Make sure your lens is clean. Apple recommends using only a soft, lint-free cloth, such as a camera lens cloth, to carefully clean dust and fingerprints from the iPhone camera lens. Avoid moisture, compressed air or cleaning agents of any kind, particularly anything abrasive. See your cell phone dealer for more extensive cleaning or repair.
  • To avoid shutter shake and save your arms when photographing many pages, use a remote shutter release. A copy stand, such as the Fopydo Smartstand, also is useful. You’ll also want a bookrest or bean bag to support a book’s covers when open (the library may have these available—ask when you call ahead).
  • If possible, find a flat surface with plenty of light.
  • Support your smartphone on the copy stand, if you’re using one. Place a document or photograph flat on the table and position your camera directly over it so the lens has an unobstructed view of the entire page. Avoid shooting at an angle, which distorts the shape of the paper or photo.
  • If you’re shooting a book, place it on a bookrest so it stays open. You may need to use one hand or a bean bag to gently flatten the page. Position the camera over the page, tilted at the same angle as the page.
  • Take test shots with (if permitted) and without flash to see which produces the best photos in the available light.
  • Speed your scanning workflow by using a scanning app, such as CamScanner (iOS, Android, Windows), Genius Scan (iOS, Android) and TurboScan (iOS, Android), instead of the phone’s built-in camera. These apps crop and straighten pages as you scan, create files with multiple pages, and offer enhanced lighting. You also can name pages as you “scan” them, add a date stamp and choose whether to create a PDF or JPEG file.
  • Save scanned images to your Camera Roll or email account, or export them to your cloud storage service.

Gravestones

Capturing a good image of a gravestone lets you extract all possible information and edit it to improve readability. Some cemeteries have regulations regarding the type of equipment you can use or they require photographers to get permission from the office, so call ahead before you go. And of course, respect the solemnity of the surroundings.

  • Bring a soft brush to remove loose dirt from the stone and a spray bottle with plain water to help bring out the inscription. Don’t apply any other substances, such as shaving cream or flour, to the stone. If the cemetery isn’t maintained, bring garden shears to trim weeds that cover the inscription. Don’t forget water for yourself, sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Use the built-in viewfinder grid to keep the gravestone straight and level.
  • To illuminate a hard-to-read inscription, try to photograph the stone when sunlight hits the face at about a 30-degree angle (morning for an east-facing stone, midday for west-facing stones). Using a reflector or a large white board can help you aim light at the stone. If the sunlight is too strong, shade the stone with a dark cloth. You’ll want to have a helper to handle this paraphernalia while you shoot, as well as for safety reasons.
  • Photos of hard-to-read gravestones can easily lose their identifying information. Your phone’s photo app probably lets you add text on an image, or you can use an app that places a caption below the image on a frame. Instants Photo Edition by Soreha (iOS) adds a Polaroid-style frame to photos captured “in-app” with the camera, or already in your camera roll, with an optional space for a caption. MOLDIV photo editor (iOS and Android) lets you add captions on the photo or within a simple frame around the image.
  • Record and upload GPS and inscription data to the web with a cemetery app such as Find A Grave or Billion Graves (both available for iOS and Android).

Houses and other buildings

Your ever-present smartphone is a handy tool for photographing family homes and the buildings where your ancestors worshipped, worked or attended school. A few tricks will help you best capture the entire facade and, for public structures, move inside to photograph interior rooms. If you’re photographing a private home from a public sidewalk or street, it’s not required—but it is good manners—to first let the owner know the purpose for your pictures. Don’t enter any yards unless the property owner gives you the go-ahead. Be aware that some public buildings have photo and media restrictions for security reasons.

  • Morning or afternoon light, or overcast skies, will give you the most pleasing light with fewer harsh shadows. On sunny days, plan to photograph buildings when the sunlight falls on the front of the structure, rather than directly overhead or facing the camera.
  • Position yourself at a comfortable distance, where you’re safe from passing traffic or other hazards. If you plan to take several photos, a tripod and smartphone camera mount may be helpful.
  • Use the camera’s built-in viewfinder grid to keep the horizon or roofline level. Or use the Camera Plus App (Android and iOS), which offers the traditional “rule of thirds grid” (which helps you compose a pleasing image) and a horizon level. The iPhone’s built-in Camera App includes a grid you can enable in Settings>Photos & Camera>Camera>Grid.
  • To include the tall dome of City Hall or sprawling wings of a ranch-style home with the built-in camera app, you’ll need to step back far enough to see the entire structure in your camera viewfinder or use a wide-angle lens on your camera. Sometimes that’s hard to do. A clip-on wide-angle or fisheye lens (which is curvilinear and will cause straight lines in your photo to appear curved) is especially useful in tight city streets, where it can be virtually impossible to back up far enough to photograph large buildings. The lens also lets you capture interior views of home living rooms, kitchens, and other spaces.
  • Experiment with taking portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) images. The panorama mode available on newer smartphone cameras is another option for including wide structures. See the techniques for Family Group Photos for ideas on using this feature.
  • Turn on your phone’s geotagging, or location, option to help you remember the exact location of the building.
  • Before snapping your photo, check the corners and edges of the frame for power lines, poles, bus benches, parked cars and unsightly trash bins. Try to minimize them if you can. A few of these “props” can help set the date and place, but too much confusion in a photo can overwhelm your main subject.

Relatives

Frame-worthy group photos rarely just happen. It’s hard to get a gaggle of people assembled in one place, all smiling and looking at the camera at the same time. Use these pro photography tips to make the pictures from your next family reunion the best in decades.

  • Smartphones typically boast two lenses. The front-facing lens, best for selfies, is usually relatively low resolution. For example, the iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel XL both offer a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and 7 or 8 megapixel front-facing camera. Use the main, rear-facing camera for the best photos.
  • Plan ahead for group shots, if possible, by encouraging relatives to wear solid-color tops. That puts the focus on faces in your pictures. But don’t be overly strict: Uncle Harry’s signature bright plaid button-down deserves a place in history.
  • Turn off the flash to avoid red-eye and harsh shadows. Shoot outside in the early morning or late afternoon, or under an overcast sky. In bright sun, go for open shade, like under a large tree. Avoid patchy shadows.
  • Select a spot with an uncluttered background that’s free from distractions such as trash cans, telephone poles and cars. A park, garden or beach location works well.
  • Gather props like stools, benches, lawn chairs and even ladders to achieve different levels. Pose the kids on laps and on the grass in front.
  • Wide panorama pictures are great for large groups or playful smaller groups (such as everyone holding hands in a chain). Take advantage of your smartphone panorama mode by slowly panning the group in the direction of the arrow on your phone camera app (practice this ahead of time—you don’t want to have a large group posed and waiting on you to figure out your phone).
  • To include yourself in the picture, use a tripod and the self-timer or a remote shutter release. Set up your camera and compose the picture. On the iPhone, access the self-timer by tapping the timer dial at the top of the photo screen, then select 3 or 10 seconds. Check the user guide for other phone models.
  • Take a bunch of photos. You’re certain to get some pictures with closed eyes, runny noses, fussy kids and awkward body language. More photos gives you a better selection. You can take multiple shots in quick succession with the burst mode feature found on most Android and iOS smartphones. Simply hold down the shutter button and the camera will take 10 frames per second. This can result in lots of images, though, so be aware you’ll need to choose the best and toss the rest.

Tip: When shooting a photo, steady your camera by standing with your legs slightly apart and arms held at an easy height, or use a tripod with swivel head.

Smartphone Smarts

You don’t have to use the latest model phone to capture great digital photographs. Most devices released in the last two or three years feature high-resolution cameras and compatibility with popular photo and editing apps. Each device and model will be slightly different, so take time to learn the basic features of your phone’s built-in camera app, including:

  • turning the flash on and off
  • locking focus on the subject (usually by touching the screen)
  • adjusting exposure
  • using the self timer
  • selecting the mode (such as video, photo or panorama)
  • setting resolution
  • performing basic editing (use photo-editing apps for advanced edits)
  • sharing photos

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Denise May Levenick is the author of How to Archive Family Photos (Family Tree Books).
A version of this article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Stateline Travelers – Part 7 – My 3 x Gt-Grandma , and Me. She got teeth & fashion!

Stateline Travelers – Part 7 –

My 3 x Gt-Grandma , and Me.  She got teeth & fashion!

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn, SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter

Part of an On-going Series

June 11, 2017

Photo composite fun.

Imagine my shock when I realized that these two different looks were the same person – my great great great grandmother, Catherine McIntosh Greenup.

I love looking for the stories as I do family histories, and piecing them together verbally and visually.

In about five years, she completely changed fashions, and became confident (new teeth?) and very urban sophisticated.  She dressed less like the unsophisticated Virginia/Kentucky country look, and more like the “big” city of Macomb, Illinois look.

This is one of the slides that I composed for my genealogy program – “What They Wore When” or “Contemporary Fashion Through the Ages – How to Tell Which Timeline Your Ancestors Are, by What They Wore.”  I have given the program three times, and am booked for two more presentations in the next few months.

 

3 x Gt Grandma photos

 

 

Hint – I never expected to find that I had any ancestors from Kentucky.  Try to learn about all states that your ancestors lived in.

Kentucky was granted statehood in 1792.  it became the fifteenth state in the US and the first state west of the Appalachian mountains.

So it looks like my Gt-Gt-Gt Grandma Greenup was born in Kentucky 17 years before it became a state, and there are zero chances that there will be a state vital record of that.

 

 

Organizing Family Photographs on Your Computer

Vicki’s Note – article from Family Tree Magazine.  This is how I organize my paper files, and is standard for that.  On my computer, I  organize by surname first.   Good point to  add the first name of the father, and sub-folders for each family member.:
Organizing Your Hard Drive: Photo Filing Tips
6/5/2017
Struggling with a system to organize your digital photos? Think like a census taker and try this method of filing pictures by head of household.

How to Set Up Photo Folders on Your Hard Drive

1. Navigate to the Photo folder inside the appropriate surname folder. Click to select it.

2. Inside the Photo folder, create a subfolder for each head of household you have pictures of—for example, John Johnson Family or Samuel Johnson Family.

3. Inside each of these family folders, create a folder for each family member: John, Mary (his wife), John Jr., Susie (children) and so on.

Photo Filing Guidelines

Genealogists research our ancestors within the context of their familial relationships, so filing in this manner keeps that at the forefront of our thinking.

  • Men: File pictures under their parents prior to marriage, and under their own name after marriage. For example, John Jr.’s photos prior to his marriage will be in the John Jr. folder inside the John Johnson folder. Photos after John Jr.’s marriage are filed in a new John Johnson Jr. folder.
  • Women: Filed in the same way as records—Susie’s photos prior to her marriage go in the Susie folder inside the John Johnson folder, and you’ll place photos after her marriage in the Susie folder inside her new husband’s folder.
  • Group photos and multiple families: Photos of multiple family members go in the head of household’s folder—you have to navigate there to get to the other relatives’ folders, after all. But suppose you have a picture of both the John Johnson and Samuel Johnson families around the Christmas tree. What to do? Duplicate the photo and save a copy in each of the respective families’ head of household folder.

More help organizing your family photos and research from the experts at Family Tree Magazine:

Ancestry.com “Saves” are not Permanent Until You Save the Records to Your Computer

Ancestry.com “Saves” are not Permanent Until You Save the Records to Your Computer

Vicki’s note – a 5-26-2017 posting on Facebook from the FamilyHistoryDaily.com https://www.facebook.com/familyhistorydaily/  BLOG.

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Stop ‘Saving’ Records to Your Ancestry Tree Until You Read This

It’s no secret that we love free genealogy sites here at Family History Daily. But, we have to admit, we also like Ancestry.com. Next to FamilySearch.org, you’re not going to find a larger, more diverse genealogy website — and many of us are willing to pay their subscription fees for that reason alone.

But we also like Ancestry for the convenient free family tree they offer. It’s easy to get started with, maintain and share (or keep private). Plus, they’ve made it extremely convenient to add records from Ancestry’s databases. A couple of clicks and you can easily attach any number of sources, or names, to your tree (although we could tell you why that’s generally a bad idea).

But it’s this very convenience that poses a serious problem for many family historians. Most people who keep their trees on Ancestry.com probably regularly attach records to individuals using the ‘Save This Record’ function …..”

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Read the rest of the article here to find out how to save Ancestry.com records to your computer, not just to your Ancestry (online subscription) Family Tree.  Good hints on backing up your data, and updated information on the status of the replacements for Ancestry Family Tree Maker Software – TreeSync; and FamilySync from MacKiev.:

http://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/stop-saving-records-to-your-ancestry-tree-until-you-read-this/