24 April 2011

Scrapbook Sunday - All My Love, Ruth

My grandmother posed for this glamorous photo to send to her true love, who was stationed in the Philippines. 

Ruth Ginter Smith December 1944

Bubba, her true love, was serving in the Navy during World War II. His wife and daughter were busy keeping the home fire burning. Bubba often repeated how beautiful our grandmother was to him. Well, Bubba, I have to agree. She was gorgeous!

Happy Sunday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

17 April 2011

Family History Celebrations - Passover

Passover technically begins at sundown tomorrow night. For those in charge of the household however, it began several weeks ago with a thorough house cleaning to remove all crumbs or remnants of unleavened food. Tonight our family will have the traditional hunt for chametz, or unleavened food, during which the children walk around our darkened house and find ten little  pieces of bread, which I will have hidden before we start. I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in this ancient practice after spending the first twenty years of my life celebrating Catholic rites and traditions. Very few people have the opportunity to experience more than one religion during their lives and go from searching for Easter eggs to searching for chametz. 

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover or another tradition altogether, this Scrappy Genealogist wishes you a spring season of freedom and renewal. 

The next few days will be very busy ones as we are hosting two Passover seders in our home. If you don't hear from me until later in the week, don't worry, I will be back! Unless of course, I drink too much wine or eat too much matzah. It's been known to happen. 

Happy Sunday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!
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14 April 2011

The Secret Jews of Calabria and Lost Sephardic Ancestry

The subject of secret or hidden Jews fascinates me and the goal of helping people find and reclaim their Jewish heritage is important to me. Do you wonder if your family might have been Jewish in the distant past? Think about your family customs. Family customs and traditions frequently provide the keys to uncovering Jewish roots. 

In this video Rabbi Barbara Aiello visits Calabria, Italy where she talks with many different residents about Calabria's Jewish past and the customs of its people. 

Another interesting video about the history of the Jewish people in Italy, including those Sephardic Jews who arrived after 1492, can be viewed on YouTube. For more information about Italian Jewish roots, see Rabbi Barbara's page here.

Jewish heritage has been lost many times over the last several thousand years, most recently during the Holocaust and more distantly during the Spanish Inquisition. One branch of my husband's family is said to have been kicked out of Spain during that time. MJ and I are on a quest to discover whether or not there is any truth in his family's oral tradition. One route to discovery is DNA testing. 

MJ is participating in the Iberian Ashkenaz mtdna Project through Family Tree DNA to determine whether or not his great grandmother, Sofia Ponce, had mtDNA shared with other known Ashkenazi families with Sephardic roots. What we have learned so far is that his mtDNA falls within Haplogroup W1, which is found primarily in Europe, the Middle East, and North, South, and Central Asia. Whether or not he shares Sephardic or Iberian mtDNA is at this phase of the project inconclusive, but possible. We are hopeful that another one of Sofia's great grandchildren will test to increase the data. We'll keep you posted!

Happy Thursday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

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13 April 2011

Preliminary Schedule - IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

The preliminary schedule for the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is live! You can now view class titles and descriptions for this week long conference coming in August 2011. There is something for all genealogists and family historians, from beginner to advanced. Many classes are applicable to any area of research and are not limited to Jewish research.

Happy rainy Wednesday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

11 April 2011

Jewish Genealogy in Washington, DC

Early Bird registration for the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy ends on May 1st when the fee rises from $275 to $310. This year's location affords attendees the opportunity to research in Washington, DC. This Scrappy Genealogist will be researching at the Holocaust Museum, the Library of Congress and the National Archives in addition to attending the plethora of classes offered at the conference.

Hope to see yout there!

Happy Monday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

09 April 2011

NERGC 2011 - Keynote Speaker, Paul Milner

Scrappy Gen and Paul Milner
Write down your stories. Paul Milner made this point personal last night in his dynamic key note address, "What Were Our Ancestors Really Like", at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. Along with other heart touching stories, he used his work and residence history to illustrate the importance of recording your life. 

Paul's work career began in the United Kingdom as an underground miner. He later worked in both Australia and Alaska, USA as a miner. He then became a Lutheran minister in Ohio, USA. After serving as a minister he became an official in the church hierarchy. A layoff in 1993 brought him to financial planning and finally to his current career as genealogist. 

Imagine for a moment that you are one of Paul's descendants, researching in the year 2100. After some diligent work you find two of his diverse records, including miner in Australia and minister in Ohio. Would you connect the two records as the same individual? You might eventually after finding several other supporting documents and creating an indirect proof argument, but it would be difficult and he might become your brick wall ancestor. 

Imagine now that Paul writes his own life story down today. It wouldn't have to be fancy, but should include the pertinent facts of his life with appropriate proof. He ensures that future generations will be able to find his autobiography by preserving multiple copies in multiple locations.  He is providing his descendants the clues and possibly the proof that his ancestors will need to identify him in the many different localities where he lived. Paul is the only one who can create this primary source providing direct proof. What genealogist doesn’t long to find this elusive pot of gold? 

Write down your stories. As family historians and genealogists isn't it our duty to record our own lives? There are two weekly blogging prompts to help you with this endeavor; the first is 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin and offered through the geneabloggers website and the second is Sharing Memories: a Genealogy Journey offered by Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy. 

Remember, start simply. Provide your descendants with your particulars; where and when you were born and lived, with whom you shared your life and a little about what you did. Include copies of your vital records so that your great, great, great grandchildren or nieces and nephews don't have to look for them. Just imagine for a moment, if your ancestors had done this for you. Does this thought motivate you to start writing today?

Happy Saturday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

08 April 2011

NERGC 2011 - Day 2 and a High Heeled Shoe

A high-heeled ladies shoe.Image via Wikipedia
Let's just call it what it was. Day two of the New England Regional Genealogical Conference was all about my unfortunate shoe choice. All I could think about were my feet and my heels and my toes. As you know my primary job is still Mom. Shoes with high heels are an impediment in my usual line of work. What does a Mom do when she goes somewhere where there are grownups? She puts on nice clothes and nice shoes, shoes with high heels. What this Mom forgot is that she doesn't know how to walk around in high heels all day anymore. My feet hurt so badly by the end of the night that I had to skip the SIG meetings and literally hobble back to my room. It wasn't pretty. Today you may see me wearing sneakers. My toes are so upset they may refuse to where any shoes at all. 

My advise to you is this: wear comfortable shoes to conferences. Seems like a no brainer, but apparently some of us still need to learn that lesson

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!
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07 April 2011

NERGC 2011 - Day 1

Main Street in Springfield, MassachusettsImage via Wikipedia
Three straight days of nonstop genealogical fun await. The New England Regional Genealogical Conference begins today. After arriving in Springfield, Massachusetts yesterday afternoon, I volunteered at the registration desk. Don't tell anyone, but this was the best volunteer job! 

During registration, I met so many new people, as well as many new online blogging and Facebook friends. In particular I would like to send a shout out to Judy and Deanna and her sister Darcy. Two fellow geneabloggers were hanging around; Marian Pierre-Louis of Fieldstone-Historic Research and Midge Frazel of Granite in My Blood. These women are two of my favorite genealogy blogging role models. 

I also met Paul Milner, one of the two featured speakers at the conference. Paul hails from northern England. His specialty is not surprisingly British Isles genealogical research. Paul will be presenting "What Were Our Ancestors Really Like?" tomorrow night at the banquet sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society

Almost eight hundred people are preregistered for NERGC 2011. Do you wish you were here too? It isn't too late. You can show up on any of the three conference days and register to attend for one or more days. The conference organizers expect quite a few people to do this. Why don't you join us?

Happy Thursday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!
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05 April 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - How to Find a Grave

Last Tombstone Tuesday, I showed you a picture of my great, great grandmother's eternal "room with a view". 

The first part of the journey to her grave was pretty mundane, but the details might help others looking for their ancestors' graves. My great, great grandmother Sarah Murtagh Grace died on the 4th of November, 1900 in New York City. Family tradition told me roughly when she died, but I found her exact date of birth and her death certificate number by searching the New York City vital records page on the Italian Genealogical Group website. After ordering and receiving Sarah's death certificate from the New York City Municipal Archives, I discovered that she was buried at Calvary. 

Next I had to find a Calvary Cemetery. Using trusty old Google, I found the most likely candidate nearby in Queens County on Long Island. There is a good description of Calvary Cemetery through the NewYorkGenWeb portal hosted by RootsWeb. A more complete history of Calvary is available on the Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page

View Larger Map

A phone call to the cemetery office confirmed that Sarah was interred in First or Old Calvary Cemetery. They also confirmed that there was a baby buried with her. This was sad news, but made sense as the cause of her death was placenta previa. They gave me the address of First Calvary and the physical location of the grave by section, avenue, plot and grave. Armed with this information and a map I found online. I felt good. I felt confident that we could find Sarah's grave. So, last May, when we headed to Long Island for the wedding of one of my first cousins, my husband and I took a little detour to Calvary. 

Unfortunately, there were a couple of questions I neglected to ask. Make sure you ask these before you head out in search of a grave. Are sections, avenues, plots and graves clearly marked? If so, how are they marked? If they are not marked, ask the office to mark the grave on a cemetery map. Don't wander blindly in an unfamiliar graveyard. While interesting, you might try the patience of your companion. Not everyone likes to read gravestones and wonder about the lives once lived. Last, for large cemeteries, ask where the office is located. It might not be on site as is the case with Old Calvary.

Luckily, or serendipitously, or with a little spiritual guidance and a tree I found Sarah's grave. Next time I will share how I believe my grandmother and a beautiful tree at the top of a hill helped me find it. Sometimes it pays to listen to that still small voice or subtle feeling. 

Happy Tuesday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

04 April 2011

Blog Awards

When I was a kid, I didn't play sports. Unless you count ballet. Is ballet considered a sport? Ballet certainly didn't help me at gym time when it came to picking teams. Yes, I was one of those last couple of kids waiting to be picked, as in, okay I'll take her. I was pretty much an athletic inconvenience.

Besides ballet, I twirled a baton and read books. If only reading were considered a sport, then I would have made it to the Olympics. I remember one summer reading program in particular in 1975 at the Storrs Library in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. The 200th anniversary of the United States was fast approaching and all things American Revolution were in vogue. For each book we read that summer, we received a tiny rifle with our name to put on a life sized minuteman chart in the library. I was so proud of my rifles. I think they put our names in the newspaper as well.
Other than those tiny rifles and a couple of ribbons for baton twirling, awards for sports did not figure prominently in my childhood. Today kids earn awards for everything, including ballet. All three of my kids have multiple trophies and ribbons adorning their rooms. It feels good to get awards and my kids display theirs proudly. 

Recently several kind readers have given The Scrappy Genealogist the One Lovely Blog award. Did you know that this award was created by an artist named Sara of Works of Art by Sara to honor lovely artistic blogs? How nice that these four readers felt my genealogical blog merited this award. And you know what? It feels good to receive it. Just like those tiny rifles years ago, receiving an award for doing what you love is nice. 

Here are the four lovely women, who presented me with the award:

Valerie at Family Cherished
Family Historian at A Couple of Whiles
Liz at My Tapley Tree...and its Branches
Joanne at Keeper of the Records

Scrappy Gen 1974 Longmeadow, Ma
Thank you ladies for thinking of The Scrappy Genealogist. Having visited your blogs, I know that you too share the genealogy bug! 

Happy Monday!
Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember
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03 April 2011

Scrapbook Sunday - Bubba...Baby or Ball?

This week's scrapbook features someone you already know well. I thought I should make up for the wonky picture of Bubba I posted on April Fool's Day. Although he did pose for it. And printed it. And put it in his photo album. Because he wanted us to remember. He wanted us to remember him, and our family, and our traditions and our stories. He would hand the camera to me and direct me on how to capture the best pictures of him. He taught me how to capture good photos, but more importantly he taught me how to capture memories and stories. 

On this day in 1992, Bubba handed me his camera and had me take pictures of him with my daughter, his second great grandchild. He sat where the light was best. He used several props to keep Hannah engaged. The result as you can see are phenomenal pictures of a very special moment. A moment remembered.

Happy Sunday!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!

01 April 2011

Family History Story - April Fool's Day

What a great laugh I got this morning. My aunt sent me a funny story about Bubba and gave me permission to share it with you. Don't let his serious expression fool you. 

Bubba loved a good prank and especially loved a willing victim. 

My aunt's story: April Fool's Day was one of Grandpa's favorite days. He celebrated all kinds of days. I will never forget the day he brought [her son] home from a haircut at the barber. He put ketchup on [her son's] ear and told [his Dad] that his ear was cut. [His Dad], the willing victim, went crazy until Bubba almost fell down laughing.
Yes, Bubba loved a good joke. Anyone with any gullibility wasn't safe from his lure. His sisters and his granddaughters were high on his list. I have had quite a few hooks removed myself.

Happy April Fool's Day!

Scrappy Gen
Let's Remember!
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