The art of research into family history through records and artifacts. Includes Carnival of Genealogy, too.

Tartan Thoughts: So, there was, like, this big Genealogy shindig in Salt Lake City recently, and…

image So I hear there was this great gathering of genealogists in Salt Lake City recently, at an event that goes by the acronym NGS. Many people attended, and blogged about it. I read a few of the roundups, but one in particular caught my eye – the Ancestry Insider post that included a link to a movie. About family with a clan. And a tartan. I’ll embed it here, with color commentary.

About the Clan McCloud. So you know, McCloud is an anglicization (americanization) of the spelling of the name McLeod or MacLeod.

Oh, that photo at the top of this post? Those are my parents and Dad is wearing what we call the Loud MacLeod tartan—also known as the bumblebee tartan. I can’t say as that tartan goes well against my particular skin tones. I’ve written about my family’s erstwhile and dubious MacLeod connections in my story Not from the Isle of the Lewes. The blood is fake and mythical, but our experience meeting Chief John MacLeod of MacLeod was very real.  Alas, most of my good photos of that trip are all slide transparencies. There is much to scan, and I’ve not even ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 14, 2010 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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I’m one in a hundred! ( Top 100 Genealogy Site recognition) 100 badge WooHoo! I’m proud to say that Family Oral History Using Digital Tools has been recognized in the Top 100 Genealogy Sites.

From the blog post/announcement of this distinction:

We wanted to identify and give recognition to websites which offered high-quality content, were innovative in topic or design, and which were frequently updated with new content. We also put some emphasis on finding hidden gems in the community, and bringing sites to attention which currently have relatively small audiences. As such, there are a number of lesser-known sites included, and a few more prominent sites unmentioned for the same reason.

Here’s the entire list of the 100 sites. To stay sane, I think I’ll be clicking a few a day over the next several (or several-several) days.

Congratulations to all the others, and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 13, 2010 in • Cool WebsiteGenealogyPersonal
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Census 2010: A family history perspective

Pia Lopez of the SacBee opines that the census is much more than How Many People, What Ages are they? She describes all her family history that’s contained in census past. She recounts everything she knows of her family history that’d be lost if a proposed law that asks Just Four Questions Only (name, age, date of response, number of people living in one household) had been in force at the time her ancestors filled out the census. enacted.

From my family’s oral history, I knew that my mother’s grandfather had left Ireland for New York in 1893 and that he worked for James Butler’s Irish neighborhood grocery store chain.

But the June 6, 1900, census snapshot fills in a whole lot more fascinating detail. Martin E. Roache lived at 551 W. 152nd St., near Broadway (one block from the Hudson River) in Washington Heights, Manhattan. He was boarding with the Schmidt family.

The husband, age 42, had arrived from Germany in 1875 and was a baker. The wife, age 39, was born in New York, the daughter of a German immigrant and a native-born New Yorker. They had two children, ages 10 and 5. The older child was attending school. A ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 05, 2010 in • GenealogyHistoryPersonal History
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Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank (June 2009)

image Memories of Jamboree, Burbank, California, from June of this year. Image: Footnotes at Jamboree. What fun it was to meet fellow Geneabloggers and hang out. I think I spent more time hanging and talking than I did going to the conference sessions at Jamboree.

I began composing this post the day after Jamboree. But then I got sick. All of July I was sick. Then other stuff happened. But hey, I know that today’s the day when plans for next year’s Jamboree kicks off, so what better time to belatedly recall Jamboree last June than today?

I didn’t make it to the Son of Blogger session (exhaustion set in, alas—June had been a jam-packed month), so that event was a micro-cosm of my posting of late (not much, you?)

I did make it to the Geneabloggers dinner on Saturday night, though. And, as you can tell by this image (click to view high rez version), a lot of other Geneabloggers made it, too! (not pictured: Thomas Macentee, nor I)


Here’s a ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 12, 2009 in • GenealogyPhotographs
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Genealogy Carnival: Carousel (+ one Techish highlight)

The 36th edition of Genealogy Carnival is a carousel, or free-for-all. (I missed submitting an entry. Have I mentioned I’ve been busy?). Go read them all. One in particular I found striking, Technology and Early Adopters in Your Family Tree, by Thomas Macentee. Electricity, telephone, plumbing. How they did without, how they did. My grandpa wrote a 15-page double spaced paper for his family during the final years of his life, called “Twentieth Century Developments.” I wrote about it at great length in the comments, and am posting the same thing here, too–with some additional quotes.

My grandpa offered up his observations about various and sundry inventions and changes he’d observed in this lifetime in his “Twentieth Century Developments” paper.

There’s lots to do with transportation, beginning with railroad (his grandfather—from the 1880s and uncles worked for the Denver and Rio Grande RR in Colorado). Then, in 1912, my grandpa’s father bought a Model T—and his description goes into the art of car-care before there was much in the way of documentation.

For the first 12 years of my life we had nice old black Jim, our horse, and his buggy for transportation. Then Dad bought the Ford. I never knew where he bought it or how he got it to Walsen, but it was ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 20, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Is it witchcraft?

When I re-read a letter I got from my Dad’s cousin Lainey in 1987, I encountered a family ghost. Well, not exactly, but a couple of family witches. So for the current Hallowe’en themed Carnival of Genealogy, I’ll post the excerpt of her letter.

Now (and here comes a genealogical “goodie”!) take a look at Chart #27. Fine person #1 ... Rebecca Carrington. Boy, oh boy—what a discovery! Her parents were John Carrington, a carpenter by trade, and Joan [__?__]. John was charged with witchcraft 9and so was wife Joan) in 1650. His (and soon after, hers, too) trial was held in Hartford, Connecticut on Feb 20, 1650. the jury came in with a guilty verdict on March 6, 1650 and they were both hanged as witches shortly after in Wethersfield, Conn. where they resided. How their daughter Rebecca survived that awful tragedy, growing up to marry a well-to-do merchant, Abraham Andruss, and settling in Waterbury, Connecticut—would probably ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 15, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Carnival of Genealogy: Family Wartime Stories

Welcome to the 32nd Carnival of Genealogy. The theme: Family Stories of Wartime. The entries span the Revolutionary War to the Korean Conflict.

On the same day I was reading through the submitted entries, I asked my SO to set the TiVo to record all seven episodes of Ken Burns’s The War (begins Sunday, 23 September on PBS), a 14+ hour documentary that tells the story of World War 2 through the eyes of ordinary people from four American communities. “In extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives.” We also watched a documentary that the TiVo recorded earlier this year: The Perilous Fight: WW2 in color. Color motion picture was accompanied by excerpts from diaries and letters written by those who lived it. It was a (mostly) sober couple of hours of non-Glenn Miller getting In The Mood (er, not that mood) for the Carnival, and for the upcoming Ken Burns documentary.

Ken Burns and PBS are promoting the The Veteran’s History Project (VHP), a nationwide oral history project to record and preserve the stories of Americans in wartime at the Library of Congress.

Pearl Harbor

The common theme of the documentaries, the VHP, and this carnival: Great historical events do not belong to the Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, War Secretaries and Generals, decision makers and strategists. When one nation fights another, the war is experienced from family to family, household to household. Whether victim, refugee, prisoner, laborer, soldier, the events of that war seep into every corner of a nation.

So here are some stories of war from the households of family (and neighbors) of the carnival partipants.

Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War-era maps and charts

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings tells us the story of Patriot Soldier, Isaac Buck, one of his favorite ancestors and his service and war pension. Good for Isaac Buck that he received a pension, and good for Randy that the records are there to tell him of his ancestor.


Randy’s story mentions Ticonderoga; Here’s a map of Ticonderoga with authentick informations, 1777, from Library of Congress Memory Project. (My grandfather’s 100th birthday party was in the Village of Ticonderoga, or “Ti” as we call it)

The Revolutionary War is also known as “the First Civil War,” according to Tim Abbot of Walking the Berkshires. His account ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 18, 2007 in • GenealogyHistoryOral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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Father’s oral history about, well, a digital tool

This past spring, I interviewed my dad, with the Veteran’s History Project in mind. Dad was in the Navy, going to school on a ROTC scholarship, and serving in and around the Korean War. We paged through a scrapbook that his Mom kept for him, and he told me stories about the pictures and items therein. The stories from that interview session mostly concern his beginnings in the Navy. I asked him a question to clarify a term he used about his training, and he told me two related stories about his work in the Navy. (oh, and digital, in this case, refers to fingers, not bits)

I wanted to clarify something he mentioned earlier. I asked, “When you said ‘the physical aspect of naval training’ and that was when you were talking about navigation… when you say ‘physical aspect’ what [did that mean]?”

Well where you learn how to use a sextant, how you use a bearing circle, how to determine the direction—the ship’s compass, and the various aids to navigation that you would have. You could use your sextant to determine the altitude of stars, but first you had to learn how to identify the stars.  I still have a sextant; people don’t tend to use those anymore because of the advent of the global positioning system. But I still have the sextant, and can operate it. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 15, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal HistoryVeterans History Project
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The Carnival of Genealogy goes wine tasting

Just went to the local wine and cheese bar in town. While discussing the merits of one particular Zinfandel with the proprietor, we began to speak about the art and task of writing. He let slip the word “genealogy” and I buttonholed him later to ask him if he had a family war story for the Carnival of Genealogy. I hope he sends it to me in email tomorrow. This will be an honorary blog entry inspired by “a quality floozy of a Zinfandel wine” and a tale of an ancestor in Civil War times. If so, this post shall be updated with great details. Civil War stories. Peppery California Zinfandels. Who knew?

Here is a brief synopsis about Tom Dugan’s ancestor, Peter Whelan. He wrote this email—from memory; he wasn’t where he could access his notes— telling me about Peter Whelan’s involvement in the Civil War.

Peter Whelan was born about 1842 in Co Leitrim, Ireland.  He arrived in the US with his parents in about 1852.  He grew up in Warwick, RI.  In 1862 (around 20 years old), he enlisted in the Army at Providence, RI.  He fought in multiple battles in Maryland and Virginia during the next two years.  In one of those battles, he was shot in the head.  He survived and was eventually transported to a hospital in West Philadelphia, PA.  He lost the use of one eye from the bullet would and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 14, 2007 in • Genealogy
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The new Genealogy Carnival is up! Myths and Lore

The theme: Family Myths. The host: Craig Manson, at GeneaBlogie. Many entrants. Go. Click. Read.

The next edition of the Genealogy Carnival will be held right here on this site. The topic ties in with a noteworthy documentary coming September 23 to PBS—“The War,” by Ken Burns. “The War” tells the story of World War II through the lives of ordinary men and women from four American cities. For the mid-September Carnival, tell any story about a wartime event or soldier in your family (no need to limit it to World War II or America).

Submit your story here by September 15th

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 04, 2007 in • Genealogy
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NOT from the Isle of the Lewes

My dad went to the local highland games, wandered the clan tents. Looked at the names of the septs. Aah, MacLeod has a whole Lewis side to it. Dad’s middle name is Lewis, it’s a family name that comes from his mother’s side of the family. Lewis, yep. That’s it. So I’m a MacLeod, my dad says. From Lewis part of the clan, from the Isle of Lewis, or from MacLeod of the Lewes. My dad joins the clan society. Even takes the whole family along to Scotland back in 1982 to something called the Clan MacLeod Parliament, to meet Chief John MacLeod of MacLeod. Nice, fun story. But it misses an essential thing or two.

image It does not miss tartans or kilts. Nope, Dad loves to wear the yellow MacLeod of Lewis tartan. Also known as The Bumblebee tartan, or the “Loud MacLeod” as you can see here at left (good shot of shirts, parents’ faces, not so much. Hence pixellation.)

image It does not miss the trip itself, which made quite the impression on them and on us. We went to Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, seat of the Clan MacLeod. (And yes, he wore the other tartan, the MacLeod of Harris tartan.)

I’ve danced on the gunyard. Climbed both of MacLeod’s tables (mountains with flat mesa-like surfaces). I even created a certificate—on paper plates (we do what we can with what we’ve got)—for those few of us ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 01, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Online site for storing family trees

I began playing around with a new online site– Oh the irony. This, after the scraping you-know-what hit the fan. I’d been thinking about this step last week, though, while I read my letters in the attic– I want to know how old everyone is at the time the letter was written. begins dead simple. Start filling out information. A look at their Terms of Service emphasizes privacy, privacy, privacy. From what I’ve seen thus far, they get it. (Note: I met people from at the Genealogy Jamboree; they gave me the coolest swag ever– a pen that lights up)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 29, 2007 in • Genealogy
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Family historian or genealogist?

Jasia ponders the differences between personal historian and genealogist. I’m glad she did. I’ve been a sometime participant in the carnival of genealogy, but sometimes have felt shades of sham (note: I said sham, not shame!) because I’m not doing research into who begat whom and when. Partly it’s because others in my family have done so. I am far more interested in the stories, the histories. So I’m a Family Historian. There. Glad we got that settled.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 24, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Thoughts from the Jamboree of last weekend

I spent three days at a table showing off digital recording tools to passers by at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree and Resources Expo (which I’m calling Genealogy Expo for short) last weekend. Here’s a recap of conversational snippets and observations from the Jamboree, along with follow-up of discussions at my booth.

imageFor people who have recordings that they made already—how to get them from tape (cassette, reel-to-reel, microcassette) and into digital form: I talked to many people who’ve already done recordings that they have on cassette or even micro-cassette. Which reminds me, I want to get some resources for digitizing reel to reel tapes (one person said they have the tape, but not the recorder/player) and another who’s working off the original microcassette to transcribe the interview. I told the person to minimize wear and tear on the actual tape and get it transferred to digital format ASAP, and then do the fast forward and rewind on the digital version. The digital file won’t stretch, snap ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 15, 2007 in • Do it: Hiring HelpDo it: YourselfGenealogyRestoration
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