This week I did not visit any repositories or do any research on Ancestry, FamilySearch, Genealogy Bank, or Archives.com. We visited my in-laws in New York.
I learned a lot.
I brought my Flip-Pal scanner and wand scanner with me and scanned some long-coveted family photographs and two files’ worth of documents.
I learned how to use the Flip-Pal scanner - perhaps not with a great deal of ingenuity or skill, but I did finally take it out of its box and do several dozen scans with it. The greater part of these scans were duds, not the fault of the scanner, but I was testing its limits. I learned that you can make a scan through glass, but the scanner has to be sitting flat on the glass. It cannot be above the glass or angled down onto the glass. However, my father-in-law kindly removed the glass from the set of photographs that I coveted most of all, and I learned that no glass is best of all. I will be pulling up some of the tutorial videos for the Flip-Pal on YouTube to learn more.
The wand scanner once again proved its worth. I learned that it’s a good idea to backup scans with transcriptions when working from an original with bumps/discontinuities in the paper or with poor contrast.
I learned that you may have to settle for not knowing who is in those coveted photographs. One of the photographs may be of one my my husband’s great-great-grandfathers - either Julius Koehl or John Fichtelmann - but we don’t know, because anyone who might have known is no longer alive. Not that I won’t be trying in the coming weeks to get some ideas on this.
I learned that photographs are a great way to inspire relatives to share their memories. I put together a binder with copies of documents (probate records, ship manifests, descendant reports, etc.) for my relatives, but I knew this would be kind of dry, so I added a couple of maps of home cities back in Germany and Italy and the photograph I posted of my mother-in-law’s grandparents’ home in Newark (“Always Go Back and Reread Your Notes”). The reaction inspired by the photograph was amazing. My mother-in-law showed me where her room was, where she played with her childhood friend (and what games they played), and also recalled a couple of priceless stories about her grandfather.
I learned that in addition to providing new items of information, an important function of documents is to confirm or refute old information; I was particularly delighted with seeing the names of baptismal sponsors, whom I recognized as siblings and grandparents. The “smaller” details are as important as the names and dates: home addresses and church names will help tell me where to look.
Not bad for a couple of days.