Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Happiness

What makes you happy during the holidays? Like others, I enjoy having some of my family around, watching them laugh and hearing them tell stories, share a little gossip and eat like it's their last meal. I also recall memories of loved ones. Some are very close to my heart and mind and others are names and events in my family files. They pop up on my computer like robots. Wouldn't it be nice is we could turn them into human beings for just one moment?

If you were given one minute of conversation with an ancestor, what would you ask? I would quickly ask about their parents, particularly if I'm missing that vital link. You have those in your family tree, don't you? Would you ask something personal? Maybe that is why I treasure old photographs, drawings and paintings of my family. It's a glimpse at that special ancestor in the family file. They become more than robots!

A year ago my granddaughter, age 11, told me I should make ornaments for the Christmas tree out of old family photographs. I wouldn't use the originals but scan and print off ones that could be placed on some kind of ornament. The rest of the story along with photos of the tree is at my blog, You Go Genealogy Girls.

It was a fun project, but even more fun looking at the photographs. I never tire of studying them. Last night my granddaughter was staring at the tree and commented, "He is pudgy." Indeed that ancestor had pudgy cheeks. The other day I was looking at an old uncle on the tree who was born in 1792, but lived long enough to have a photograph taken in about 1870. Then I realized that he knew my 3rd great grandparents. They died long before photography and were undoubtedly too poor to set for a painting. Looking at his eyes I knew that he had seen my past and his mouth had opened and spoke to my ancestors. He had witnessed wars and celebrations. He had lost children and relatives and wept. The Ancestor Tree has brought them alive, just in time to bring Holiday Happiness.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are going, do it with care and a happy heart. But, always remember your past and realize what your ancestors have given you to enjoy today.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reading Old Script

One of the obstacles in doing genealogical research is reading old documents. It's a game of out guessing the clerk or scribe who put words to ink and paper. This is further complicated by the variations of style through the years. Foreigners who arrived in America often had their names and information slaughtered by an Anglo clerk who had no clue how to spell or write foreign names.

The complications of reading old script become heightened when we begin researching records of a foreign country, such as Germany, France and Italy. That's when we think it's time to go back to school.

Help is available! Script Tutorials, Resources for Old Handwriting & Documents presented by Brigham Young University, is just what you need. They offer guidance in deciphering manuscripts and other old documents. The languages include English, German, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. By clicking on a specific language, you will be guided with preparation techniques, alphabets and sample documents.

These tutorials have many links that will take to study. However, they are definitely worth the time spent. One word may be all you need to solve the puzzle. It's usually that one word you cannot read. With the help of Script Tutorials, you might be able to get over the brick wall.