Your Quick Tips, 18 August 2008

Sharing Cards Received
My mother had saved cards for years and when she moved in with my sister, she wanted to know if I wanted the cards. I said yes. So I also sorted them out by families and friends and have them for those who want them in the future.

While going through cards I found several from a good friend of hers with notes written in them. She always wrote what was happening in her family to keep my mom up to date. It just so happened that the son was in my class at school. So I sent the cards to him. This told him what his mother was thinking of him and his children each Christmas and was an addition to his family history written in his mother’s hand.


A Cautionary Tale
I submit the following (illustrated) bitter, cautionary tale to for publication in hopes that it will be instructive to others.
My mother, with whom I shared the genealogy bug, died in 2000. My father remarried in 2004. When my father remarried, he moved into his new wife’s house. This resulted in a sudden need to empty the house where he had lived with my mother and distribute the bulk of our family heirlooms among myself and three siblings. 
Since I, the remaining family genealogist, lived far away, I came for a week at the time of the wedding and tried to be of service in the major task of disassembling our father’s house. I expected all the family jewels–genealogy files, picture albums, slides, old documents–would remain with my father. They, after all, are part his life, too, and they did not require much space.
Lists were made, heirlooms packed, a wedding was celebrated, the house was emptied, and our father moved. The actual move took place several weeks after the wedding and the two local siblings bore the brunt of emptying the house.  
For almost ten years, I have been gradually scanning family pictures from far-flung family, leaving our own collection for last. On a recent visit to my father I finally asked, “So where do you keep the photo albums?” Dad’s response, “I don’t know who has them,” sent chills down my spine. I quickly contacted my local siblings only to be confronted with the answer, “I thought you took them.” One sibling added, “I thought those albums just contained pictures of Mom and Dad’s recent travels.”

And so, that is that. They are gone forever–pictures of my grandparents in their youth during the first decades of the last century, my great-uncle standing in his grocery store in the 1920s, all our childhood pictures, school pictures, family reunions, and so much more.   
A few of my favorites were scanned over the years, but with no particular attention to resolution–since I always intended to return and do a proper job. All the originals are now lost. 
The action was not mine, but I had a part. I assumed that everyone in the family cherished these jewels. They did not. 
Joan Kolarik
Chicago, Illinois

Timeline in Excel
I found a form for a year-by-year timeline. I printed it out and shared it with a class I taught but never really took the time to fill it out. I had a few moments the other day and sat down with the file of one of my great-aunts and filled it in. It worked well, but I later found I had made a mistake so I decided to create my own timeline form on the computer. I did my form in Excel and used four columns: “Year,” “Age,” “Important event,” and “Documentation.” When I was finished I realized how useful the document could be so I added a fifth column–my “To-Do” column. The Excel format allows me to add to the timeline as new information becomes available. I include every instance where the individual was mentioned in print. This is a new tool and I believe it will be very useful.

Beverley Gutenberg
Sasktoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!

Quick Tips may be reprinted, with credit to the submitter, in other Ancestry publications, so if you do not want your tip included in a publication other than the “Ancestry Weekly Journal,” please state so clearly in your message.

6 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 18 August 2008

  1. Joan,
    You make an excellent point about cards and I have found in my own family that many of the “older ladies” keep EVERYTHING including the envelopes. So many hidden gems are in those cards and if you are ever offered cards, letters or even find them in an estate or attic they are GOLD.

  2. Joan, a great article! Our family has fared better on my side as my brother, altho not a genealogist, took great care to make disks of all the family photos [a cedar chest full on one side and shoe box on the other] and then gave a copy to me. Also, I had occasion to make copies of the family bible and marriage book of a great grandparent, which I had translated from the original German and then sent copies back to the Uncle who had the originals. Unfortunately, my work papers and original copy were lost in a flood; fortunately my cousin recently sent me copies of everything plus some other info that she found in the Uncle’s desk after his death. Sharing is invaluable! My deepest condolences on your loss!

  3. Joan,
    I have a similar cautionary tale to share: The “family treasures” of a branch of my family were “sold at auction” when a never-married very elderly cousin (the last of that line) got ready to enter a nursing home. She had gone downhill mentally near the end – and had stopped keeping in touch with her similar-age cousins. So she just let a “friend” arrange to put everything up for sale – and over a hundred years of family history was lost forever – all of the family albums, the old quilts, the trunk that came over from Norway, etc.

  4. I had tried to post a comment on a qick note about Beverly Gutenberg using Excell. I, too, use Excell for genealogy, but for individual charts pertaining to my overall curiousity to know everything about my ancestors. I have made about 6 individualized charts for schooling, social security, immigration etc. I even added clip art to them according to the theme of the charts.

    I do not know if the posting went through, as it is outlook and I do not use it. I cannot set it up on my computer and until I can find someone to show me how to set it up, I am asking you for information if there is another way to contact Ancestry Weekly Journal with what I am trying to send about how I useExcel?

    If there is, please email it to me at

    Thanks for your assistance.


  5. To Linda Larson on her comment #8

    Make friends with your local Archives or Historical Society.

    In 2003 we had a large Auction which included not only my deceased Aunt’s, but also items for all of us. A notebook had been organized of old letters and receipts dating back to the 1800s. It was in a box of items sold. We had not even missed it.

    In 2007 I was at our local Archives . The buyer had turned the notebook in to the Archives with information on the Auction. The Director of the Archives figured out who it belonged to and the next time I was there she showed it to me. You bet I claimed it. The sale had been in an adjoining county.

    I suggest you advertise for the items check the Antique shops they often show up at Estate auctions and may still have some of the items.

    Fran Nichols
    Lebanon, Tennessee

  6. We as a family have always saved our Christmas, Birthday, anniversary cards and the like. This is a great way tokeep track of family members address’ and special dates.

    Phil Quintin
    Family Genealogy, Maps and local history for Europe and North America
    Family History
    Your place for Family Genealogy, Maps and local history

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *