Donna’s Picks, Link Love, and More: Valentine Edition

I hope your Valentine is as cute as this!

Donna’s Picks

“Donna’s Picks” was my occasional weekly feature of noteworthy articles that has now become a monthly roundup.  Here are February’s goodies!

Nun Maintains Polish Ties Through 100 Year Family Correspondence, an article by Susan Klemond in National Catholic Register, is a great story about two families keeping in touch across the miles – and across generations! [February 12]

Twenty-Five Ways to Come Up With Great Ideas for Your Writing by Ali on Aliventures may spark your creativity whether you are writing your family history, trying to come up with blog posts – or if you’re writing some fiction on the side. [February 1]

What’s with the SSDI and the petition? by Pat Richley-Erickson, otherwise known as DearMyrtle, sums up the recently “controversy” over the Social Security Death Index.  [February 12]

The 50 Questions in the 1940 Census – Tuesday’s Tip by Nancy at My Ancestors and Me gives us a glimpse of the types of information we’ll get when the 1940 Census is made available this April. [February 7]

More Than Meets The Eye (Again): A Tuesday’s Tip Follow Up! by Cynthia Shenette at Heritage Zen offers some great advice on reviewing the photos in our collections.  Cynthia says, “if you have a group of photos or materials that seem to be related in some way make sure you view them together and consider the group as a whole” – see her post on the discovery she made doing just that.   [January 31]

Set in Stone? by Bill West at West in New England reminds us not to believe everything we read…even if it’s written in stone! [January 29]

The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Genealogists by Randall Dickerson from Free-Range Organic Genealogy (formerly known as Alabama Genealogy and Ramblings) humorously ponders the question of what species of genealogist we all belong to.  As Randall points out, take note that “Any resemblance between these descriptions and any genealogist, alive or dead, is unintended, a coincidence, and a darn shame.” [January 29]

What’s Past at What’s Past is Prologue ~ What You May Have Missed

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

What’s Prologue at What’s Past is Prologue ~ Coming Up

I had quite a few posts planned for February…but here it is and the month is half over and I haven’t quite gotten to my ideas yet.  I hope to post in the next month about some finds in a new collection at, the preponderance of February dates in one of my ancestral families, and my preparations for the 1940 Census.

As always, thanks for reading, following, and subscribing!


Donna’s Picks, Link Love, and More: New Year’s Edition

Happy New Year! Did you resolve to clean out your clutter?

Donna’s Picks

“Donna’s Picks” was once my occasional weekly feature of noteworthy articles – now it feels more comfortable to roundup my “picks” once a month.  Here are January’s goodies including a couple of genealogy blogs that are new finds!

I recently discovered a relatively new blog, Alabama Genealogy and Ramblings by Randall Dickerson (1-19-2012: Note – Randall changed his blog name! It’s now Alabama Free-Ranging Organic Genealogy at the same address). Ordinarily I wouldn’t have even looked at a blog with that title because I have no Southern roots whatsoever. But I’m sure glad I stopped by, for not only does Randall have great posts, but he has one of the funniest and most entertaining About Me pages I’ve ever read!  (Yes, Randall, I had to look up “Vexillology”.) Check out The “Do List”; My New Year’s Resolution Concepts in which he proposes concepts that will allow all of us to be more productive. One of his good posts from December is Trying to like Ancestry.Com – Disaster in Grafting My Family Tree in which he shares his frustration over what happens when you splice another’s tree into your own.

Dawn Westfall has been blogging since September at Wisteria where she writes about her maternal Dutch roots and paternal Southern roots. I naturally gravitate towards humorous posts, and I got a chuckle out of Famous Relatives. Well, that’s one way to finally get kids interested in genealogy. There are at least three other genealogy bloggers that share my interest in science fiction and will find her famous relative as cool as I did!

In what happens to be yet another humorous post, Jenny Lanctot in Are My Roots Showing? (which is a fabulous blog title!) gets an unexpected chuckle from a Family Search indexer in Wisdom Wednesday – Search Terms and Spelling. With my surname, I’ve had my share of misspellings so it made me chuckle, too.

Just to prove I also enjoy serious posts, I was fascinated by More Than Meets the Eye – Tuesday’s Tip in Heritage Zen by Cynthia Shenette. I have always loved looking at what else is in the photo besides the “main” subject. Cynthia presents to great photographs with tons of details in the background.  But – for the record – Cynthia writes some wickedly humorous posts – see the evidence with her last COG entry, What the Dickens 2, Or More Tales from Hell’s Kitchen – Advent Calendar, Grab Bag.  I’m still laughing!

What’s Past at What’s Past is Prologue ~ What You May Have Missed

One Year Ago:

ShtetlSeeker: It’s Not Just for Shtetls Anymore – one of the best town databases you may not know about

Two Years Ago:

Cousins, Countries, and War – the start of my 5-part series on the Bavarian Military Rosters available on

Three Years Ago:

Fun with Maps in Philadelphia – a look at some nifty mapping tools to see what my hometown looked like back when my great-grandparents came to town

Four Years Ago:

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? – In my very first COG entry ever, I imagine inviting four very different ancestors to dinner to solve a few mysteries.

What’s Prologue at What’s Past is Prologue ~ Coming Up

A post coming soon will ask you if your family history is like a famous musical from the 1960s…and if your family history has something in common with that story, well…let’s just say it’s not a compliment and you have your research cut out for you. I also hope to resurrect the “Memory Monday” personal reflection posts this year – starting in January!  If you also read my collaborative blog, The Catholic Gene, join us the week of 29 January as we remember/celebrate Catholic Schools Week.

Thanks for reading, following, and subscribing!

Donna’s Picks, Link Love, and More: Advent Edition

Happy Advent! My niece waiting for her first Christmas, 2005

Meanwhile, back at the laptop…

November was a rather quiet month here at WPiP – I can’t believe I only posted once! But I wasn’t as lazy at it first appears – I managed to write four articles for The Catholic Gene instead.  During November, I posted the following:

09 Nov – The Mother of All Churches was more of a “filler” post and a photographic tribute to the Churches mother church.

11 Nov – Serving Those Who Serve: Military Chaplains is one of my favorite articles so far.

13 Nov – The Immigrant Saint: St. Frances Cabrini is an expansion of a post I first wrote here about America’s first naturalized citizen saint.

27 Nov – Changing the Way We Pray is a personal reflection about the introduction of the “new” translation to the Catholic Mass.

Donna’s Picks

I’ve been tardy in my “Donna’s Picks” occasional feature of noteworthy articles, so here are a few recent goodies:

Beware of family traditions when it comes to genealogical research! Michael John Neill dispels the myth of “what’s supposed to be” and several other beliefs and assumptions that may be stalling our research in Is Your Brick Wall in Your Head? [Nov 28 by Michael John Neill on – reprint from 2004’s Ancestry Daily News]

I really enjoyed Death Certificates: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in which Valerie discusses the value – and dangers – of one of the common genealogical resources, death records.  She says, “Just like any other record, you need to obtain it, evaluate it, and decide how trustworthy the information is.”  Great minds think alike – I used the same title in reference to the SSDI back in September, 2009 – only in that case the SSDI actually just got way uglier. [Nov 21 by Valerie on Begin with ‘Craft’]

I value creativity, so it was interesting to learn about the 7 Deadly Sinds of Creativity.  Bless me, Father, for I have sinned… [Nov 28 by Marc on Marc and Angel Hack Life]

Then again, creativity doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t act on your ideas.  Get inspired and learn how to use your super power with Creativity Alone is Not Enough! [Nov 30 by Sharon Hurley Hall at Get Paid to Write Online]

Finally, Amy Coffin proposes The Hypothetical Ancestor Trade-off in which we trade our research- challenged ancestors in the hopes that some other researcher will have more luck than we have.  I love this idea, Amy, and I’ll trade you your great-great-grandmother Mollie for my great-grandmother Elizabeth! [Nov 30 by Amy on We Tree]

What’s Past at What’s Past is Prologue ~ What You May Have Missed

One Year Ago:

  • Ho! Ho! Horror! – Was your annual photo with Santa ever quite like these?

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

What’s Prologue at What’s Past is Prologue ~ Coming Up

I’ve had some ideas in the works for months but I never seem to “get around” to writing the posts, so I’m not going to jinx those ideas by mentioning them again (some for the third or fourth time!). But I do plan on writing about how my new favorite television mystery-writer/crimefighter can help us with our genealogical research. I’ll also look back on how I fared with my 11 research goals for 2011 and come up with some new ones as well as my annual year-end reflection.

Thanks for reading, following, and subscribing!

Donna’s Picks: July 17, 2011

“Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists. Sit back and enjoy the following links:

Maybe He’ll Want to be a Geneablogger… Anyone who has ever purchased a travel guidebook is surely familiar with the name Arthur Frommer.  This past week, Arthur joined his daughter Pauline on a very personal journey to visit Łomża, Poland – the town of his mother’s family. Read about their experience at I Have Just Wound-Up a Four-Day Visit to Europe for the Purpose of Fulfilling a Lifetime-Long Obligation. [July 14 on Arthur Frommer Online]

Take Your Friends With You if You Move…Google+ seems to be all the rage this week among genealogy bloggers (I don’t get the point yet).  Learn how to Migrate Your Facebook Friends to Google+ With The Facebook Friend Exporter Extension [Chrome]. [July 14 on MakeUseOf]

On My Photography To-Do List…On Shades of the Departed, footnoteMaven provided a link to a fantastic photo site called As fM says, it’s worth a visit! [July 7 on Shades of the Departed]

Proving or Disproving Family Stories…Who among us does not have a family story that’s dismissed as true due to lack of evidence? Read Leah’s Were They Related? for an interesting case study about a story that may – or may not – prove to be true.  She has a ton of great tips applicable to us all – starting with using maps in our research! [July 14 on Leah’s Family Tree]

Sort-of “Related” to Genealogy…While this isn’t exactly the point of researching our families, some of us might be surprised to find that our relatives left unclaimed property behind (I was when I found a great-grandparent’s insurance policy that was unclaimed).  Read A Primer on Finding Unclaimed Property to see if yours did. [July 7 on Get Rich Slowly]

Happy ancestor hunting!  Stop back next time for more of Donna’s Picks!

Donna’s Picks: January 7, 2011

Happy New Year! “Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.   Sit back and enjoy the following links:

Calling All Young Genealogists – If you are a genealogist and a student between the ages of 18-25, considering applying for a grant to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in June.  The grant is in honor of The Family Curator’s mother, Suzanne Freeman, and you can read all about it in Young Genealogists Invited to Apply for Grant to Attend 2011 SCGS Jamboree [January 5].  What a wonderful idea in memory of a wonderful woman!

De-Cluttering for Genealogists – A common theme this week among my genea-friends seems to be working on new year’s goals that involve getting organized.  There’s no better way to tackle your unorganized pile of genea-clutter than taking it one step at a time starting with DearMYRTLE’s 2011 January Organization Checklist [posted January 1].  I swore I was going to follow Myrt’s checklists faithfully two years ago when they were first published, but I never got around to it.  This year!  Now the monthly checklists are updated and full of very helpful suggestions and solutions.

Uncover the Story – Now that your desk is clear, read Leslie Albrecht Huber’s Uncovering the Stories of Immigrant Ancestors [January 3] based on her recent magazine article.  She offers tips on how to turn the dry genealogical “facts” into an interesting story.

No Response? – If you’ve written a query to a church and didn’t get a response, read the Ancestral Archaeologist’s reasons why you didn’t in Why the Dog Ate My Church Records Request [Jaunary 5].

Keeping Up with the Joneses? – Read Elyse’s 3 Tips for Researching Common Surnames [January 5] on Else’s Genealogy Blog.  And if you don’t have Smith and Jones in your family tree, I know this would work on Kowalski in Poland or Schmidt in Germany!

And Now for Something Completely Different – If you want your blog and your writing to stand out from the crowd, why not Be the Chicken Nugget in a Bag of Vegetables? [January 5 on Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer]

Finally! A Tombstone Tuesday I Can Relate To (since my family has few tombstones).  Susan Peterson takes a light-hearted look at the death of our beloved gadgets in Tombstone Tuesday – Sending My Stuff to the Technology Graveyard [January 4] on Long Lost Relatives.

Happy ancestor hunting!  Stop back next time for more of Donna’s Picks!

Donna’s Picks: December 17, 2010

“Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.   Sit back and enjoy the following links:

Creativity and Genealogy – Daniel Hubbard of Personal Past Meditations muses on The Creative Act.  Is genealogy just facts and figures, or can it be a creative pursuit?  Read Daniel’s answer, especially the penultimate paragraph which beautifully explains how genealogy can be a creative act.

On the other hand… – Steve Danko of Steve’s Genealogy Blog explains Applying the Scientific Method to Genealogical Research (Part 1).   While the story of your family’s history is definitely enhnaced with creative acts, actually finding the history is next to impossible without applying a little bit of scientific thought.  Looking to develop some research plans next year?  Don’t even try it without using Steve’s methods found in his 5-part series.

One of my favorite records – Learn what you can find by investigating draft registration cards at pursuits of a desperate genie.  Genie talks about all the cool things you can find out about your ancestors in these records, which are why they are one of my favorites, too.

My Christmas Gift to Me – I just got a new Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner and I can’t wait to try it out. What convinced me to buy it was Janine Smith’s review at Tip Squirrel.  Read her Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Review and I bet you ask Santa for one, too!

And now for something completely differentLearn how to Turn Your Digital Photos Into Incredible Paintings With Psykopaint at  The free online program allows you to transform your photos into paintings.  What a great way to get creative with your genealogy!

In case you missed it, Jasia posted the Call for Submissions for the 101st Carnival of Genealogy at Creative Gene.  And don’t forget to vote for Family Tree Magazine’s Best Genealogy Blogs for 2011 – last call is midnight on Monday!

Donna’s Picks – December 10, 2010

”Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.   Sit back and enjoy the following links:

Making the Past Alive in the Present – Via a travel blog I read called Vagabondish, I found a post called Reviving the Ghosts of Amsterdam.  It points to twelve photographs at My Modern Met also called Ghosts of Amsterdam.  All I can say is “Wow!”  Anyone who loves old photos – and what genealogist doesn’t? – will be blown away.  The Met article includes a brief interview with the photographer, Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse.  Of course, we have a similar talent in our midst – Jasia at Creative Gene did the same thing last year with Melancholy Too and it was equally brilliant.  This is definitely on my “to do” list for next year.

Myth-Buster Extraordinaire – Leslie Albrecht Huber at The Journey Takers Blog busts the “name change” myth in Your Family’s Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island.  I laughed out loud when she calls it the #2 myth next to the “I’m-descended-from-royalty/Indian-princess/Charlemagne/noble-who-fell-in-love-with-a-peasant-girl-and-stowed-away-on-a-ship-to-America-in-order-to-escape-thePrussian-military myth.”

Jesus’ Matrilineal Ancestry? – Scholars and medieval legends think that Mary’s grandmother was Ismeria, a descendant of King David.  Read more at Jesus’ Great-Grandmother Identified.

Those Dreaded Christmas Letters! – Penny Dreadful stops by The Family Curator and gives us an idea of what if would have been like If Our Ancestors Wrote Christmas Letters: Dreadful Greetings

The Most Important Day I Never Lived – Craig at Geneablogie gives us another gem with The Most Important Day of My Life: December 7, 1941.  No, Craig isn’t quite that old, but he recognizes the importance of that historical day on his own life.

Donna’s Picks – December 3, 2010

“Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.   I haven’t posted many picks this year, but several articles caught my eye this week.  Because some were in non-genealogy blogs, I wanted to pass them along.  Sit back and enjoy the following links:

Christopher Columbus’ Genealogy (psst…don’t tell the Italians!)Witaj w rodzinie to Christopher Columbus! (That’s Polish for “Welcome to the family.”) Researchers seem to think that the sometimes-Italian, sometimes-Portuguese explorer is descended from the Polish King Władysław III!  There are dozens of news stories about the find, which they hope to prove with DNA testing.  Read “Christopher Columbus was the son of a Polish king, historian says” from Medieval News on 11/29 and Christopher Columbus discovers…He Is POLISH from Stanczyk – Internet Muse today.

Haunting Images – I found some beautiful black and white photographs of tombstones at The Bow Tie Man (aka Daily Parallax) on 11/30 and 12/1.  See them at Magnificent Markers and More Magnificent Markers. He needs to become a Graveyard Rabbit photographer!

Creative Family History – Denise Barrett Olson offers genealogists a great example of a creative way to present your family’s history.  See Cecil B. DeMille is Calling, published at Moultrie Creek on 12/1.  Get in touch with your inner filmmaker and you’ll have a great Christmas present to give your family!

How to Make Your Friends Jealous – All of us have been admiring Becky Wiseman’s travels for over a year now, and marveling at her beautiful photography.  But Becky really made me (and Apple) jealous this week with Ahhh…. with apologies to Apple… published at kinexxions on 11/30. I’ll think of you, Becky, and hope you’re having a great time as I crank up the heat in my house!

The Jesse Tree in an Illuminated Manuscript

‘Tis the Season…to celebrate Jesus’ Family Tree – Advent is here, and one of the ways to celebrate the season is with a Jesse Tree.  Jesse was the father of King David, and Jesus’ ancestor.  Read more about this tradition in Who is Jesse and Why Should We Care About His Tree? published on 11/28 at Spiritual Woman.  A great explanation on the history and ornaments can be found here at Catholic Culture.  What’s interesting is that images in art of the Jesse Tree look like a reverse version of a genealogical tree in that Jesse is at the “bottom” of the tree, not at the top.  This is depicted due to the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1 in which “a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”

Enjoy the week, and don’t forget to stay tuned at Creative Gene for the 100th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy that will appear this week!

Donna’s Picks: January 10, 2010

It’s Back!  The Return of “Donna’s Picks”! [Insert dramatic music here]  “Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.   Sit back and enjoy the following links:

Online Language Tool – I read about this on a mailing list, but before I could post about it the blogs were already talking!  Several blogs related to Polish genealogy wrote about it, but I’ll credit Jasia at Creative Gene as the first one I read.  Read I won’t Be Going Bald Anytime Soon! in which she highlights a new complete Polish-English (and English-Polish) online dictionary at the University of Pittsburgh.

Genealogical Records – Multi-blogger Lisa, this time from A Light That Shines Again, re-posted an “oldie but goodie” about her great-great-grandfather’s naturalization papers.  Rather than just a dry transcription, Lisa set up the historical context in which he lived.  Read her fascinating look at Tierney family treasure: Patrick’s naturalization papers, 1876.

Genealogical Philosophical Question of the Week
– Tim Agazio of Genealogy Reviews Online asks To Subscribe or Not To Subscribe to Ancestry – That is the Question.  Let him know what your answer is – it’s one we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another.

Blah – Do you have a hard time being happy in January?  For inspiration, read JoLyn’s How to be Happy in January from a year of happy.

Happy 101 – Speaking of happy, Becky at kinexxions has awarded me “The Happy 101 Award”.  I am about to make an “Awards” page here at What’s Past is Prologue since most times these round-robin kudos don’t have anything to do with genealogy.  However, they are very nice to receive and this one is no exception, so thank  you, Becky!  I’ll comply with the first requirement: list ten things that make me happy.  That’s easy!  In no particular order of importance, they are:

  1. sunshine
  2. palm trees
  3. my nieces and nephews
  4. red wine
  5. dark chocolate
  6. time spent with good friends
  7. Gene Kelly
  8. being in Rome, Italy
  9. the beach
  10. making someone laugh

SNGF – Each week, Randy Seaver at Geneamusings comes up with “Saturday Night Genealogical Fun”.  This week the emphasis is on the fun when he asks, “What’s your superpower?” Genealogical superpower, that is!  I thought I’d add my answer to this post.  My unique ability is helping folks find their elusive immigrant ancestor on passenger lists – specifically early 20th century through Ellis Island.  If you have someone you’re sure was a “stowaway” because you can’t find them, put me to the test!  Send me an email (see About Me) or leave a comment with details.  I’ll find out if it’s my super-power after all…

Donna, Super-Finder of Passenger Arrival Records - finding your family tree one twig at a time!

Hat tip to The Extraordinary Flying Condor, aka The Educated Genealogist, for the fun “Hero Factory”!

This and That

I’ve title this post “This and That” because it isn’t strictly a “Donna’s Picks” that highlights various other posts, but more of a little of “go see this” and my “comments on that”. Technically this should have been my second “Friday Five” post, in which I highlight five short things that aren’t extensive enough for a post of their own, but I am running a bit behind this week.

Rest in peace? First, many genea-bloggers have commented on a serious issue in Alabama first highlighted by Deep Fried Kudzu this past Friday.  In Oxford, Alabama, developers are well on their way to destroying a 1,500 year old Native American mound to make way for a new Sam’s Club (like we all need another).  We don’t know if this mound was a burial site or used for some other purposes, but the fact is that it is historical.  I found it odd that even if they find remains buried there, it may not be enough to stop its destruction! Equally disturbing was news from Chicago of individuals uprooting graves to re-sell them!  Aside from being completely disrespectful, I find practices like this to be immoral.  To me, we all have a moral obligation to respect the dignity of human life in all forms – including the final resting places of those that have gone before us on earth.  Besides, even if you lack respect for the dead, haven’t these people seen the Poltergeist films?  Scared my silly as a teenager and affirmed the value of respecting the dead!  What can we do?  Get the word out about the building project in Alabama, and work hard to protect our local cemeteries.

Then and Now! For a while I’ve been thinking about shooting some “now” photos of either places in old photographs or of people in the same poses and places.  I was planning on a photographic “then and now” series, but The Genealogue highlighted a site this week that did this to perfection in film!  Visit Elliott’s home movie reconstructions to see his handywork.  I especially love his “Dad Reconstruction” and “Mom Reconstruction” in which he filmed his parents doing things they did in the original home movies.  Brilliant!

Irène Némirovsky – If you don’t know who this woman is, I encourage you to check out this piece on the “Woman of Letters” Exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.  I first learned of Irene’s story through the publication of Suite Française.  If she could write such a beautiful work in such circumstances, then I can only imagine the great works that were lost as a result of her death in a Nazi concentration camp.  The survival of the manuscript itself is a fascinating story as well.  The exhibit runs through 30 August, so if you are in New York City this summer be sure to take a look.  The museum set up this site about Irene, her life and death, and her amazing works.

Genealogy Wise – I followed the crowd and joined GenealogyWise, the new “social network” for genealogists.  My profile is here.  While I like the concept, I still don’t quite see the point. While there are many more groups to join than on Facebook, it appears that most users are not starting new discussions in these groups, but leaving comments that amount to vague information about their surnames.  Don’t we already have a multitude of surname boards that serve the same purpose?  I’ll give it time – the site has not even officially debuted yet!  But, take note of one thing I have discovered so far.  On Facebook, I entered all of my surnames within my profile, so if you search for one of those names you’ll get me as well as people with that surname.  On GenealogyWise, a basic search for a name only gives you users that bear that name – to search all of the surnames that people entered in their profile, you have to do an “Advanced Search”.

Laugh of the Week – when I sent a cousin some research on her branch of the family, her response was, “So, are you finished your genealogy now?”  [insert long pause for raucous laughter from all of my fellow genealogists]

Stay Tuned – Coming Soon at What’s Past is Prologue – Some things I am working on include an entry for the 76th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy on summer vacation memories and another postcard for the 3rd Festival of Postcards on signs.  My vacation story is a doozy, and I am still debating which of two postcards to illustrate signs – the more personal story, or a photo of a much bigger sign?  Also, for the last few months I have been working on a post about my Miller ancestors and relatives.  Every time I am about to post the series, I seem to find more information.  Not that it’s a bad thing, but it keeps delaying it.  I am actually quite tired of the Miller family by this point, so I hope to post “The Millers’ Tale” in the next two weeks!  Thanks for reading…

Donna’s Picks: March 1, 2009

“Donna’s Picks” is my occasional feature to highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.   Sit back and enjoy the following links!

History – A few weeks ago Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, wrote about a new oral history project. The West Point Center for Oral History will interview veterans of World War II through the present conflicts and archive their stories on the site.  According to the site, it “will serve as a powerful learning tool for West Point cadets and as an important research center for historians and the general public.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Plus, my second cousin on the Bergmeister side is the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets at West Point, so here’s a little “shout out” to my family!

Genealogical Records – Have you ever had difficulty deciphering old handwriting in records?  Seriously, who has not had difficulty!  Read “What’s That Say?” by The Polish Genealogy Project for a great primer on how to figure out handwriting in various languages through the ages.

Genealogy Blog – Well, it’s not specifically genealogy-related, but the Strange Maps blog is a delight to genealogists, history lovers, and anyone who loves maps of all kinds.  Some have a unique genealogy twist though, like the 11-year-old boy’s drawing of his immigration!  Don’t click through to the site unless you have some time to kill, because there are so many interesting posts you’ll have a hard time leaving.  Consider yourself warned.

Genealogy Blogger Challenge – It’s not a challenge, per se, but Craig Manson came up with a great idea for bloggers to post their Names, Places, & Most Wanted Faces.  Several bloggers have already posted their lists.  I’m still deciding and/or writing some posts, but my names and places are listed on the sidebar to the right if anyone wants a sneak peak.

A New Carnival in Town – see the very first edition of the latest genealogy-related carnival, the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival!

Blogging – If you are always on the look-out to improve your blog or your writing, check out Seven Expert Tips for Outstanding Web Writing at ProBlogger.

That’s all of Donna’s Picks for today.  Here’s a Happy Blogiversary wish to footnoteMaven who is celebrating two years as a genea-blogger.  In blog years, she’s a veteran!  I’d also like to send out some get well wishes to Terry, Ernie, and Becky – come back soon because I miss your posts!

Donna’s Picks: Week of January 4, 2009

The “Donna’s Picks” feature returns after a lengthy hiatus!  I may not have “picks” every week anymore, but I will occasionally highlight other blogs, posts, or articles that may be of interest to my fellow genealogists.  For this comeback edition, enjoy the following links!

History – In this news article from Science Now, read about an interesting archeological find in Germany.  Researchers now believe that the Romans were in Germany for centuries later than previously assumed.

Genealogical Records
– Genealogy and Family History posted an informative article called “Before Ellis Island: Passenger Arrivals at Castle Garden, New York“.  Ellis Island gets more attention, but if your ancestors arrived earlier this article might provide some clues on where to look for evidence of their arrival.

Genealogy Blog
– I would like to highlight one of the “newer” genealogy blogs, They that go down to the sea.  Amy has been blogging since November about her Canadian, Scottish, English, Swedish, and American roots.  “Blogling” Amy describes her blog as follows: “While I like charts and graphs as much as the next researcher, my real passion lies in family stories, treasured family objects, and images.  If there was such a thing as an ‘interdisciplinary genealogist,’ I would be one.”  I am certainly enjoying her stories, and I’m sure you will, too!

Genealogy Blogger Challenge – Miriam at Ancestories asks, “Who Are Our Brickwall Ancestors, and Why Aren’t We Blogging About Them Regularly?” Good question!  From the resultant applause in the comments, we’ll be reading much more about everyone’s “brickwall” ancestors – and hopefully helping each other, as Reagan said, break down those walls!  If you’re not sure how to post your problem, Miriam even provided a very useful format to use.

Blogging – A blog about books and reading I’ve recently discovered called Sophisticated Dorkiness is presenting a “Blog Improvement Project” – “a year-long challenge that will consist of twice-monthly activities to improve your blog.”  Week One’s focus is Setting Goals.  Whether you are a new blogger or have been blogging for a while, if you are looking to improve your work than this project may be the challenge for you!

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – Finally, over on the PHILLY-ROOTS list, a Rootsweb mailing list, one helpful genealogist has been transcribing and posting lists found in her own newspaper research, such as death notices or marriage license notices appearing on particular dates.  This is especially helpful to other researchers since even non-subsribers can find these names via an archive search of the mailing list.  The researcher, Debbie, closes her posts with “Do a good deed for someone today” – she is certainly doing good deeds for other genealogists – perhaps we can follow her example.  The next time you run across some information that isn’t related to YOUR family, why not consider posting a message to a mailing list so that others can benefit?  There are over 30,000 mailing lists on the Rootsweb-Ancestry network – find one for your surname or locality of interest.  If you don’t want any more email in your in-box, you can subscribe via RSS to read in any blog reader.

cog64That’s all for this week!  Don’t forget the deadline for the 64th Carnival of Genealogy this week (see the end of the 63rd edition for details)!

Donna’s Picks: Week of April 6, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from blogs about genealogy, writing, and blogging.  Pay a visit to the site if the topic sounds interesting to you, too!

  • Daily Writing Tips advises writers about “Five Words You Can Cut.” Perhaps it’s just that my writing is really quite as bad as that?  (All five words are in my previous sentence.)  It’s a good reminder for writers and bloggers everywhere as it’s so easy to fall into the trap of adding useless words. [4/8/08]
  • Copyblogger proclaims “6 Ways that Bloggers are Like Rappers.” Now, I’m not really into rap, but I had to laugh out loud at the similarities.  Many genea-bloggers are prolific (or at least aspire to be), make guest appearances, are branded by nifty names, call their own shots, and free-style.  But my favorite of the six ways is: gang affiliation.  In the world of genealogy we call it “family”, but we’re otherwise known as a gang.  Fortunately, our happy gang doesn’t have any turf wars!  Check out the post and see if you agree. [4/9/08]
  • Family Matters talks about how “Profiling” can actually help your cousins find you online.  Can fellow researchers find you through your online profiles?  [4/10/08]

Thanks to Terry and footnoteMaven for the link love this week on my “Hats Off” post.  Don’t forget the big deadline this week…no, not TAX DAY, the due date for the next Carnival of Genealogy!  See that and all of the other due dates on the cool genea-blogger calendar put together by Thomas at Destination: Austin Family.  Check back next week for more of Donna’s picks!

Donna’s Picks, Week of March 30, 2008

Well, it’s been a slow blogging week for me and I’m afraid that April will be a bit “light” on interesting and informative posts here at What’s Past is Prologue.  I’ve been sick with two different illnesses, I have two writing deadlines hanging over my head, and I’m due to leave for a genealogy conference in Salt Lake City in little more than a week – and I have no idea what I’m going to research since I haven’t had time to get organized!  Oh, and I have a full-time job, too.  I have to say, when it comes to blogging it’s really hard to keep up with the Joneses, or at least the Seaver’s and the Thornton’s!  But, I’ll at least try to post a few of my favorites from this past week.

Because of my illness, I didn’t do my customary post to hail the arrival of the latest Carnival of Genealogy!  So, if you haven’t seen it already, be sure to visit Jasia at Creative Gene for the 45th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Cars as stars! There were many submissions this time, so get ready, start your engines, and have a fun time reading all of the posts. The next COG topic is:

What traits run in your family? Which of them did you inherit? Do you have your mother’s blue eyes? Your grandfather’s stubbornness? Your aunt’s skill with knitting needles? Is there a talent for music in your family? Or do you come from a long line of teachers? Have you ever looked at an old photo and recognized your nose on another family member’s face?

The deadline is April 15th.  Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form.  Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Here are some of Donna’s Picks for the week:

  • Craig at GeneaBlogie gave a nice Latin Primer at Catholic Genealogy: Latin Lesson.  I’ve seen many of these terms in records I have researched, but I have to admit that nigrini coloris was a first for me.  I suppose there were no Africans (not to mention African-Americans) in the area of Germany where my Latin church records were.  Thanks for the lesson, Craig. [3/30/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks!

Donna’s Picks, Week of March 23, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from genealogy blogs. I was ill most of the week and had little interest in blogging or reading blogs, but I did manage to find several good ones that brought my foggy head out of the clouds. If you missed any of these, be sure to check them out!

  • Dick Eastman had an interesting post on “Back to the Future: 2008” in which he has excerpts from a 40-year-old magazine article about what life would be like in 2008. There were some hits and some misses in their predictions, but it’s a fascinating read. [3/27/08]
  • Randy at Genea-Musings proudly says “Now we know what happened to Virgil” in an interesting follow-up to previous posts. Hasn’t everyone uncovered a fascinating article and wondered what happened to the people involved? Probably, but how many take the time like Randy to wonder aloud on his blog and find the answer! Some great detective work, and thanks to someone finding it on the internet we all can now know exactly what happened to Virgil. [3/28/08]
  • Denise at Family Matters follows on to Terry’s post with a discussion on “Screen Capture”. I personally tend to use “Alt-print screen” and then customize the image in a photo program, but I look forward to trying out some of Denise’s suggestions. [3/29/08]

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did. Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks! The highlight of this coming week is sure to be the latest Carnival of Genealogy – I’ve seen some interesting posts so far, so I can’t wait to see the entire collection.

Donna’s Picks: Week of March 16, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something either related to genealogy or blogging, or was interesting to me for other reasons. Be sure to visit these sites!

  • Also on St. Patrick’s Day, World Hum points us to “Ireland, Mermaids, and a 500-Year-Old Grudge”. While the post links to a NYTimes magazine article, I’d like to give World Hum the credit since that’s where I found it. The story is about a man who fulfills his dying mother’s wish – go to Ireland and look up the family’s history. As the post says, “It didn’t take him long to find out his ‘family was hated all over southwest Ireland.’”
  • The Cafeteria is Closed has an interesting article on “Charles Carroll”. Mr. Carroll was the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and this article provides some good biographical information as well as his Irish ancestry. [3/19/08]
  • Arthur C. Clarke, one of my favorite authors, died this week at age 90. SF Signal presents Arthur C. Clarke Links and Video with links to some of his fiction that is available online, so if you’ve never read “The Nine Billion Names of God” here’s your chance! [3/19/08]

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did. Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks. Also, I wanted to give a big thank you to DearMYRTLE for naming What’s Past is Prologue the Best Blog for the week of March 16th for my post on “Gutsy Women Travelers”. What an honor!

And finally, Happy Easter! From the Easter Vigil’s Exsultet:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Donna’s Picks: Week of March 9, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something interesting and related to genealogy or at least genea-blogging. If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

  • Craig at Geneablogie has a nice how-to article called “Publishing with Help from” in which he shows how to beautifully present your family history by showing samples of his own book. I’ve been thinking of doing this, so thanks for the review, Craig! [3/9/08]
  • ProBlogger has advice for bloggers with “7 Ways to Make Your Blog Stickier”. What’s a “sticky” blog? One in which your readers return to again and again. The advice is simple, but sometimes the easiest things are hard to remember. If you have a blog or want one, check it out. [3/12/08]
  • Lee Drew at FamHist asks “What If I Have Black Sheep in My Ancestry?” Lee, don’t we all? I have to admit, my black sheep aren’t nearly as interesting as Lee’s! I love his closing line: “Whatever you find in your family history research, be grateful that you found a little more about lineage and that your perspective of how you fit into the weave of your ancestral quilt is enhanced with each discovery.” [3/13/08]

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did. Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks. My blogging is likely to be light this week due to Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.

Donna’s Picks, Week of March 2, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week that are related to either genealogy or genealogy-blogging or writing. If you missed these posts, be sure to visit the sites!

  • Lorelle on WordPress presented “Blogging Resources and Sources to Help You Blog”. The article presents a wide variety of resources for researching and writing including using Google Alerts and Reader, Wikipedia, how to separate fact from fiction, library resources, dates, and many, many more. Many of these sites are quite useful to genealogists, so do check it out. [3/4/08]
  • Diane at Genealogy Insider asks “What Is Census Soundex Microfilm?” Not surprisingly, many have never used it thanks to the internet. Learn more about it and view the image if you’re not sure what it is. Sometimes I actually miss those microfilm days! [3/5/08]
  • Thomas at Destination: Austin Family writes about “Funeral Cards” which are a Roman Catholic tradition. Thomas has scanned samples of cards from his family members, so if you’re not familiar with these you can see what they are. I wish I had more of the ones with the photos, but as Jasia remarks in the comments…sometimes that’s all we have left of our ancestors. [3/7/08]

Thanks to Lori for the “link love” to “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks. I’m sorry I had light blogging this past week, but I have a few things planned this week to honor some of the women in my family tree so stay tuned!

Donna’s Picks, Week of February 24, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something interested and related to genealogy or at least genea-blogging.  If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

FootnoteMaven has a good post entitled “Sign Here Please!”.  She not only collects her ancestors’ autographs, but also explains how to display them quite attractively.  As I am a fellow ancestor-autograph-hunter, this certainly caught my eye. [2/24/08]

Small-Leaved Shamrock writes about “November 1892: PA train explosion makes NYC headlines”.  Not only is the story of Lisa’s 2nd great-grandfather’s untimely death  interesting, but her post reminds us of alternate sources of information we can use to learn more about the lives (and deaths) of our ancestors. [2/26/08]

Web Worker Daily describes Google’s latest offering in “Google Sites Finally Launches”.  This looks like it will be valuable for genealogists, especially genealogical societies. [2/27/08]

Randy highlights how “Genealogy Research shines today” with a story direct from major news headlines about a genealogist who proved that a memoir-author was a fraud.  Dear Myrtle also posted about this story with “Holocaust fraud solved by source documents” and interviews the genealogist in a podcast. [2/29/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks.  And many thanks to Lisa and Terry for the “link love” they gave “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!

Donna’s Picks, Week of February 17, 2008

Here are some posts that I really enjoyed this week from both genealogy blogs and “other” blogs that had something interested and related to genealogy or at least genea-blogging.  If you missed any, be sure to visit these sites!

Brave New Traveler, which is a blog about travel, had an interesting post called “Can Your Grandparents Teach You About Love?” The writer questions the cynical nature of love in today’s age and looks back to her grandparents and their stories to learn a thing or two about what love really means.  [2/19/08]

Lisa at 100 Years in America also has a wistful post entitled “If only a church could tell stories”.  She ponders what the Legrad, Croatia’s Holy Trinity Church would say “if only its walls could speak” since it has seen so many events such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals since 1780. What genealogist among us hasn’t wondered the same about our ancestors houses and churches?  See her post for more on the church and its story.  [2/20/08]

A writing blog I visit called The Renegade Writer has an interesting post on “Using Word’s Auto-Correct Function for Interviews”.  Since many genealogists use Word to write family history stories (or blog posts), these shortcuts can be used for frequently-used genealogy words like surnames or place names. [2/20/08]

On a related note, you may want to also check out Randy’s musings at Genea-Musings on “Writing narratives in genealogy software”.  Do you use Word or another word processing program, or do you just use your genealogy software?  [2/22/08]

Finally, for a good genea-laugh, Terry Thornton has posted the hysterical results of his poetry challenge by publishing the Anthology of Blogger Poems: 2008 Challenge.  Do stop over and see the many responses to his challenge! [2/21/08]

Check back next week for more of Donna’s Picks.  And many thanks to Jessica and Terry for the “link love” they gave “What’s Past is Prologue” this week!  Also, in an example of my Gene Kelly blog converging with the topic of Genealogy, the last of the Kelly siblings has died this week in Alabama.  For a link to the obituary to learn more about Louise Kelly Bailey, see my Gene Scene blog post.