Tips from the Pros: The Benefits of Posting Family History Online, from Juliana Smith

tobin card.jpgThis Christmas I was able to give my mother a one-of-a-kind gift. A while back, I wrote about my Tobin hatters in an article that was posted to the 24/7 Family History Circle blog. A lady in England had happened across an old business card for “Tobin’s New Hat Store” in New York and posted it for sale on eBay. Thankfully, she did a quick search for more information online about Tobin hatters in New York and found my article posted on the blog. She left the information in the comments section of the blog and I was able to bid on and win the auction for that card. For a very modest sum, I was able to give my mom one of the best gifts ever! And the interesting image on the card had the whole family talking about it on Christmas night. What on earth does a donkey serenading a goose (Mother Goose?) have to do with a hat shop? If you have any thoughts on the meaning of the image, please share them with me through the comments section of the blog. I’d love to hear your ideas!

You don’t have to have a blog to broadcast your family history interests, although it is an increasingly easy and popular way to share your interests and finds publicly. Public Trees on Ancestry are a great way to connect with cousins or complete strangers who may have valuable information or long-lost heirlooms. Every day more people decide to explore their family history and search looking for leads. If your tree is out there, that search can lead possible family members to you.

Message boards are another great way to share your family surname interests and leave a breadcrumb trail for those with information to share.

How much you choose to share is entirely up to you, but even just the names, estimated dates, and locations of your ancestors may lead you to a family treasure too!

22 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: The Benefits of Posting Family History Online, from Juliana Smith

  1. I simultaneously work on my personal genealogical files and the genealogical tree(s) on ancestry at the same time. I work on both my husbands and my paternal and maternal sides. It has been very fruitful.

    My husband’s mothers maiden name was Duval and her mother was a Norwood. The youngest photo we had of his mother was when she was about seven years old and her brother was a few years older. After working on on Duval and Norwoods, a distant half cousin of my husband, had ended up with photos of old families.This cousin notified us and sent a photo of my husband’s mother when she was abt one year old and it included her brother. It was such a wonderful find and one his brothers and himself had never seen. Also another relative had an old photo of my husbands gg grandfather which was fun to get ahold of it.

    On one of my trees Beard’s. I knew my grandfather Beard had at least one brother Frank and the only info anyone had was his name and the census info I had found when one day out of the blue Frank Beard’s granddaughter in law contacted me. I now have photos of Frank making him more real and I provided my cousin in law for husband photos I had of my grandfather Beard. I now have at least a couple of contacts for a few of my ancestors thru ancestry that have been very enjoyable.

    I have found genealogy to be fun and informative and have found people that do genealogy are the same. Really haven’t had luck on the message boards but get more response from my Family trees than anything else.


  2. I am looking for the following familes. Nevers in Maine and Paso in Finland. The spelling of Paso may be wrong My Grandfather was born in finland in the year 1864.

  3. I’m fairly new to using Ancestry’s website, but I have to agree that it’s fun to find out where your ancestors lived and where they came from. By exploring an older half-sister of my great grandfather, America Ann Montgomery Riddell, I hope to find out more about her parents, Susan B. Tanner and John Allen King Riddell, even though Susan is not one of my ancestors. We are trying to determine who John’s parents were (my sister and I) and hope if we find his wedding info we will finally get a name or two to work on, or if we find his birth records anywhere, that they will lead us to the one of many Riddell/Riddle families which is ours! Hope springs eternal!

  4. Besides serenading her, he is offering her a wreath. Is that to be worn as a hat? Also, I can’t see that well, but if you know anyone that can read music, ask them to sing or play the notes on that music. It might be just decorative, but it might be a well-known song, (for the time, which could have its own meaning as well.

  5. Greetings: Your greeting card is not unusual. I collect just such Xmas greeting cards particularly from the Victorian era. Religious subjects really did not appear until the very late 1800s and early 1900. The subjects were quite often animals in various situations – birds, dogs, cats, owls,monkeys, etc.. Some were fairly gloomy I must admit, but they are great fun. There is no serious meaning to this other than to amuse.

  6. The donkey (male) serenading the swan (female)? or could he be asking for tips in his hat? I love to look at these kind of images. I believe how it is interpreted reveals more about the person guessing then the actual meaning of the card. Thank you for sharing your great find. KZ

  7. Juliana,
    Your card has no real significance to your ancestors business. The card you have pictured is referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” it is one of a series of cards that were produced in quantity all depicting animals in place of fairy tale and mother goose story lines. These cards were then imprinted for any business who wanted “Cheap” calling or advertising cards. I am not sure how many cards were in the series though. I have a number of these cards for some of the early businesses that used them as advertising cards in my home town of Reed City, Michigan. These cards generally date 1890’s into the 1920’s depending on how rural a location. Our town was still producing tintype photos into the 1900’s long after they were out of style. The cards I have are from the 1896 to 1899 time period. Hope this helps you some. Tony

  8. Where did your Tobin family come from originally? Could the donkey be an “ass?” If so, combine ass and goose using different spelling combo, to see if you can find a simliar foreign word, assgoose, asguse, etc. Try saying the words together with an accent, such as a Germanic accent.

    Depending upon where your family came from, this could have a very “deep meaning” to them and their countrymen.

    Or it may have no meaning at all. Just one of the Victorian era’s whimsy.

  9. I am looking for information on Edward James Capel Neale, my grandmother’s(Rosa Muriel Mary Neale Brown) brother, who was born in Toronto, Canada, grew up in London, England. Possibly later emigrated to California. He married Lily Madden in 1911.

    Mary Brown Walker

  10. I wonder what year the card was created. Could the picture have something to do with Rudolf Friml’s music “The Donkey Serenade”?

  11. Julian I believe it is a picture of romeo and juliet and instead of a ring he is offering a hat and asking the question to be or not to be? also a reference to the name Tobin (tobin a hat or not tobin a hat)

  12. To find the rest of the article on religious records, click on “January 2009” under the ARCHIVES heading at the to right of this page. There is a bad link from this week’s Ancestry Weekly Journal.

  13. The card is very cute. it could be any of the good suggestions already given; or a sly hint at the “Bremmen Town Musicians” children’s story. It might be worth a try to look in Bremmen, Germany for history on your Tobin family.

    Just a guess.(or goose)
    What fun!

  14. My husband’s family is NORWOOD – from South Carolina and North Carolina. I’m wondering where Trudy’s Norwoods come from!

  15. There are other benefits to posting an online blog of your research… you can set up an RSS feed and/or automatic notification of blog updates. That way, all the family members who subscribe/sign up are notified when you post new goodies.

    It’s also a more accessible and interactive way for everyone to see your research. As I blog, I always link to each person’s ancestry profile, so it’s easy for family members to click thru for more info and sources on any individual.

    And the public Ancestry trees are invaluable ways to get in touch with relatives you never knew you had. I’ve saved many many years of research (and made many breakthroughs) by collaborating with family members I’ve found through the public trees.

  16. I equate the Tobin Business Card find to me finding a book containing my father’s picture on E-Bay. The book was like a year book on a camp at Ft. Snelling, MN in 1926 and was probably one of a kind still out there. The dealer had never seen one like it before. I had been doing research for about 6 years trying find out about the camp that was held for only a couple years after WWI (though I didn’t know that at the time). All I knew was my father attended the camp and I had his dog tags from the camp. I wasn’t sure what kind of camp it was until I got the book. It was a month-long semi-military camp for a select group of boys who had just graduated from high school.

  17. For the Tobin’s New Hat Shop Business card, my thoughts would be

    ” any man who makes an Ass of himself can win over the woman of his dreams with fine music and something to adorn his lady. What woman wouldn’t want something beautiful for all the world to see, such as a hat to make herself stand out in public. Specially from a man of her dreams( prince charming)who knows what she wants- something pretty to wear!”

    You might want to include it was a modest thing for a gentleman to give a lady if he want to court her or has intentions to advance towards her way.

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