People and Things From the Past

Long time, no post!

We’ve each been sucked in to pursuits other than Crafting in the 21st Century recently: Skip has been moving wood into a new woodshed and pondering a new series of lectures he wants to do involving some of the many antique tools languishing about the place. Check out the trailer:

I’ve been consumed by my OTHER hobby, family history.

My mom passed away a few years ago, and although I’ve looked through the several boxes of her family history files here and there, it was just a few weeks ago that I felt that I should really get into it and do something with all the data that she collected during her lifetime.

In the boxes, I found letters to and from people who gave her pedigree information, notes from Historical Society meetings, receipts from Vital Records bureaux, from back to the days when first-class postage was 2 cents. She would go to a county courthouse or a library, and copy passages from books in long-hand, because there wasn’t a photocopy machine back then. [And her handwriting wasn’t the easiest to decipher, but who, besides me, can decipher it?]

She compiled a book about one of the ancestors, born in 1740, and now I have her notes and correspondence from that. Sometimes I’ve looked up things on websites, and been ecstatic at the new data I found about one of the ancestors, only to go to her files and discover that she already had that piece of information, for which she actually paid money to a record researcher, but somehow the information never got recorded on a chart  or got lost.

She wrote out reams of family group sheets and pedigree charts. At the bottom of each one is a list of her sources. I can now look up some of the books she found, in Google, and many have been digitized and are available online for free. Awesome; if I can’t read her writing, I can sometimes look up the source and the page number, and voilá, it comes up online, like magic. I just copy and paste the URL of the source document on my online pedigree chart, and it is there for another cousin to search up and collaborate with.

Probably the site I love to work in most, is I love the Sourcelinker, the Search Records functions, the Wiki. And the site is free. How in the world can so much information be available to the public for free? I know, because I served as a volunteer support person for the site for 3 years. And, in that role, I became aware of the fact that the site carries a global tree, seeing as how we are all part of one big huge family, and anyone can supplant your data with their data, and you can’t cry foul about the outcome. So I’ve been transferring lots of the information I have into some of the other sites that have individual trees, which can’t be changed by anyone but the owner. Those sites are excellent, too. Family history has become such a popular hobby, and more records are being added all the time to help with the ongoing research.

It’s been great to find that some of my female progenitors also sewed, quilted, and crafted during their time in mortality.

gggmother jenny skip
Maternal great-great grandmother

This female progenitor grew up in New Brunswick, the daughter of a Canadian and a Scottish immigrant. She crossed the border  to work at a textile mill in Maine, where she met her future husband.

grandma, Marg jenny skip
my grandmother (on the right) and her sister

These sisters came to the US with their family in 1912. They came equipped with phenomenal knitting skills!

grandad and mother
grandfather and his mother

I have the remnants of a crazy quilt made by this great-grandmother, in beautiful mauves and beiges and indigo fabrics.

Family history: another “craft” using 21st Century Technology to document and delve into the past! Amazing, isn’t it, how clear and beautiful are these photographs that have survived many decades!



19 thoughts on “People and Things From the Past”

  1. I’m the historian in my family. I’m the one with all the photos and letters and research notes. Sadly, none of it is in understandable order because I kept working on it then changing my mind to do it differently but then just stopped. I am the only one in my family who knows the names of people in the photos entrusted to me by people who have passed on. I really need to do something with them before something happens to me.

    When I was younger I did a lot of volunteer work with rootsweb and genweb in the start up days. I took a look at the family search site you use but couldn’t find any FAQ section or explanation of how anything works. Am I missing it?

    I love how you’ve added photos to your blog. I need to learn how that’s done. I had thought about using MSword to scan and record all the photos with some history then have it printed into a bound book for Christmas presents this year. Have you seen anything (software or online storage) that would work similar or better?

    1. If you sign up for a free Family Search account, you can click on the Help Center link in the upper right of the screen and query by typing in search words. They also have a phone app for the pedigree site “Family Tree ” and for the photos and stories “memories ” as for adding photos to the blog: some I have scanned on my computer as jpegs and then added to a blog post by clicking the “add media” icon. I used to use Picassa to crop and prettify some of the old photos but I don’t think it is free any more. I have a photo enhancement program on my Mac that works ok. For the phone app, try and st the bottom of that page there’s a link App Gallery that will show you other apps that work with the info you’ve entered into FS, probably some album type programs

    2. And as for uploading photos and documents, I’ve even had success snapping a picture of a photo with my phone, cropping and/or enhancing it if necessary, then uploading the digital photo of the original to the website. It really helps kids get to know their ancestors if the have access to photos

      1. I sooo agree. With all the grands and great grands I have it would be a dirty shame on me if I don’t leave them with knowledge to go with the photos I’ve got.

    3. If you have your pedigree on another site or on disc, you may be able to upload it to Family Search–in the Help Center type “upload gedcom” or I will be happy to help you any time

      1. Right now everything I have is on paper. Lost my family tree maker family file disk someplace. I’m just happy I had printed out most of the information a few years ago.

  2. Wow, these photos and what you and your mom have been able (and disciplined enough to do) blow me away! A researcher cousin of mine and I have come up on many uncertainties when trying to research some relatives, so the info you’ve given should be extremely helpful. Thank you!

    Tony’s grandmother had a very small brother who we strongly believe was taken by gypsies in 1915. In the early to mid 1930’s a young man, who fit the description of the lost brother, advertised that he was looking for his real family. Due to a series of unfortunate events, they did not get to complete a connection to see if this was indeed the lost child. Mom S. did an ancestry DNA test but that has not been successful in finding a descendant of her lost brother. We uploaded the results to Gedcom. Are you having good results with Gedcom?

    1. HI Sylvia, I’m not familiar with a site called Gedcom, a gedcom file is a software program that is in the form of a pedigree chart with mother, father, siblings, etc. — so is your Gedcom another web site that does DNA testing, like FamilyTree DNA or 23 and Me?

      1. Whoops! The website is You can upload your raw DNA results to the site and do different levels of matching with other people with similar markers.

        1. I guess whether you get a hit or not, it all boils down to whether the people you’re related to are in the same site that you upload your DNA results to, right?

  3. What a treasure trove of information. How wonderful! May I ask what software program you are using (besides FamilySearch)? I used to use the old Personal Ancestral File (PAF) but now I can’t seem to access my info. I still have a lot on Ancestry but I stopped using FamilySearch for the reasons you stated. People kept changing my family information and it became too frustrating for me. Perhaps it wouldn’t matter so much if I still had a separate go-to program. Thanks and good luck with your new “obsession!” 😀

    1. Oh yes, I still have PAF on floppy disc s but it’s not easy to find a machine to read them — there are a couple of programs you can install that will take over from PAF files. I tried the free versions of them –Roots Magic, Legacy, but my PC has a bungled up hard drive, and they didn’t do well with the Mac book. Currently I’m putting all my info on because I’ve had some good luck with DNA matches

  4. It’s so great to know your family history. My mother passed away last in 2015. We don’t have a lot of history that has been saved over the years from her side of the family. As I’ve gotten older, more and more family history seems to be lost. This is a great project to work on! 😀

  5. Jenny, maybe I’ve missed it but what computer program would you prefer to use if you were to start over from scratch to do your family records? I think I’d rather just record everything as if it were the first time but with lots of notes this time.

    1. I’m putting everything into because of the DNA connection. But it really makes sense to get a program on your own computer. I would lean toward Roots Magic because a lot of people I know like it. There’s a free version of it, as well as a paid one that you can do more stuff with…I agree with your plan to start over, I wanted to get back to the original data before I accepted a bunch of hints without checking carefully and thus adulterated the info!!!

      1. Thank you. I’ll look into getting that on my computer. I want to put all my information together in reasonable order for the same reason.

  6. What a wonderful article and the photos are priceless. The one great great grandmother looks like she was going to a ball! Thanks for dropping by my site!

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