11 December 2014

The only thing on my list...

This year, my wish list for the holiday is pretty short. 

Every year around this time, the internet fills up with articles and stories about the "best gifts for genealogists." All of those shiny tech toys, subscriptions to pay sites, trips to distant courthouses, education programs and attendance at various events are appealing to me, and to many of you. But this year, there is only one thing I want. 

This year for Christmas, I want to preserve history. 

That's it. Simple. Straight forward. And actually very easy to do. 

The best part is, we can all be a part of it. We can all contribute to this great effort, we can all take pride in the fact that we helped to save page after page of these original records. 

Asking for donations to the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions effort is easy; and I'm not above begging. Really. Making a donation is easy too; I've got it set up to make a monthly donation automatically on a day, and for an amount, that works for me. 

So what's stopping you? Make a donation today. Save history. Save it for researcher's everywhere now, and for future generations. Save it for historians and military enthusiasts. Save it for teachers and educators that rely on historic records to bring history to life. Save it for every one of us, forever. 

$45 saves 200 pages

That's it. Pretty simple. Make a donation, take part in this historic effort, and give the gift of history for generations to come. 

04 December 2014

Rolling Resources

During a recent family excursion to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, I stumbled across this genealogy resource on wheels. How would you write the citation? 

The Fort Collins Museum of Discover is a wonderful facility that we have just recently explored. We enjoyed our first day there so much, in fact, that my parents decided to gift us with a family pass for the coming year. My daughter and I were thrilled, as there is much yet to explore.

One of the displays that caught my eye was this historic wagon.

Neat piece, isn't it? 

As I looked closer, I began to realize that there are names and dates scribbled all over the side panels. The genealogist in me got real excited, real quick. 

I did not have a great deal of time that day to ask around, but I did email the archives this week to ask about the signatures, and if they had ever been transcribed. I received the following response back from the curator at the museum:

I received your inquiry... "about signatures on the Museum's Frank Miller Mud Wagon. What an interesting notion, to follow up on the names signed on the wagon! I don't know of, and was unable to find any record of anyone transcribing them. The wagon underwent a fairly intensive conservation/restoration in 1995, and we have the report here at the Museum. The report mentions that the conservation work retained the penciled signatures, but doesn't describe them. It included several photos, but none that specifically focus on the signatures. 
From what I can tell, the signatures date from two periods. In the days before WWII, Frank Miller entertained a steady stream of guests, including many Western performers and celebrities, at his guest ranch and exotic animal zoo, Trail's End. Several sources mention that many of these visitors signed the body of the wagon. Will Rogers is said to have added his signature in pencil at this time (though I haven't found it yet). Miller gave the wagon to the City of Fort Collins in 1948 as a memorial to his son, who had died in Germany during WWII. The wagon was displayed downtown in an open-windowed brick building and many passerby added their signatures to it then. In 1978 the wagon, deteriorating from exposure to the weather in this semi-enclosed shelter, was moved into storage at the Fort Collins Museum. The wagon came back out on exhibit in 1990 in the Museum's gallery.
So the signatures would date from about 1917 to the mid-1940s, and from 1948 to 1978." 

There you have it. No transcription currently exists. A project for the local genealogical society, perhaps?

I have to share one last photograph, which is a close up of the section above one of the rear wheels. The date is 1878:

30 November 2014

Keeping it all moving

As 2014 comes to a close, I am looking ahead to 2015 and the many ongoing projects I am a part of. This evaluation process made me realize that I am actively involved in writing for five blogs! That's quite a bit to keep track of, so I took the time to work out a system.

The first of the year is coming! The first of the year is coming! 

As we all start to realize that 2015 is just a few short weeks away, I took a good, hard look at my organizational process for the blogs that I am involved in. There are five, and combined with my other responsibilities, it's easy to lose track and lose time. Planning ahead, and keeping that plan within quick reach, is essential to my success. 

Although I do not normally write a lot of "how to organize" posts, I wanted all of this in writing somewhere, so here we are. A few simple proactive steps to get me set up for success. 

First, I use the Arc system from Staples to keep my paper things together. Yes, I use Evernote and ToDoist in my virtual life, but I still love to have things in front of me, in writing. With blogs, I use calendars. Simple, straight forward calendars. When I am working on a project that includes more people, I prefer to have a shared Google calendar in place, but I always, always, have it laid out on paper, too. There's something to be said about scratching off each post as it is finished... it's just satisfying. The Arc system is a disc style planner (like this one), and I L.O.V.E. my planner. There are other brands available, but I like the options that Staples offers, and at a reasonable price. I actually have two - one for my full time job at Findmypast and one for "everything else." 

One of the best investments I ever made was finding the specialized hole punch for the disc bound planner system (like this one). I grabbed it on clearance a while back, and I love that I can use it to add any old piece of paper I want to my planner; I do not have to purchase anything new or special. With that in mind, I went in search of some printables to help me move into 2015... 

For me, these needed to have two essential elements: clean, simple style, and the ability to customize the same template for each of the blogs I am a part of. Although I found some great examples on Pinterest, none of them quite met my needs (see my Discbound Planner board). I moved to Microsoft Word to see what options I had that might better accommodate what I had in my head, and I found the "Monthly and Weekly Planning Calendar." 

Template found on Word

This template was modified to meet my needs, and it will be an easy one to print and keep moving forward with throughout the year. With consistent use, I'll be on top of my blogging goals for the duration of 2015. The flexibility of the template will allow me to adapt to changing needs and "we've got to post this today" situations. After working to put all this together, I decided it was an hour well spent, and I'm already putting together content ideas for the first few months. 

For those who are interested, you can download my template here. See if it works for you. If not, find something else that does. If you can stick to a blogging calendar, you may just be surprised at your level of productivity on the blog; they are essential tools in keeping your site moving.