Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A 1912 Travel Journal

Elsie Metz Travel Journal
My second cousin Joe Metz in Cincinnati received a call out of the blue one day last fall. A woman on the phone mentioned that she had an old travel journal written by Elsie Metz. It had been in the possession of a friend of hers who had died. The friend had been married to a Metz but they had no children to leave the journal with. As this woman didn't want to just throw it away, she went to the Internet and started looking for people in the Cincinnati area researching the name of Metz. She contacted Joe and he said of course he would take the journal. They arranged a meeting and she gave him the book.

Joe's intent is to give the journal to the Cincinnati History Museum with the understanding that they will scan it and then give scanned copies to him, me and the University of Cincinnati where Elsie received her college degrees. One of our other cousins works there, so he feels his request will be honored. I, on the other hand, am a little more skeptical. What if they decide it is not worthy of wasting their resources on? What if they don't give us a scanned copy? So I asked Joe if he would consider letting me take the journal back to St. Louis so that I could scan it. We met over President's weekend when I went to Cincinnati, and I have since scanned the journal. I will now return the original to him. I have not taken the time to read it completely through, but Elsie boarded the USS Cincinnati (and how ironic is that?) in January 30, 1912 in New York, and returned to that same city on May 20, 1912. What an adventure that must have been!

I am interested in this story for a number of reasons. Elsie was born in 1880, and was awarded a Liberal Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1902. She was selected to receive the Teaching Fellowship in Modern Languages there in 1903. How unusual for a woman to go to college back then, particularly at an institution that was not exclusively female. She went on to get a Master of Arts degree from the same institution in 1913. She was very well traveled as I can see not only from this journal but also passport applications and ship passenger lists. I knew of at least five times that she traveled by ship.

Once I read the journal I can determine if she has a story to tell - or maybe I should say one for me to tell. Wouldn't it be amazing to retrace her steps from 1912 and compare my travels to hers from over 100 years ago?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 21 of the Family History Writing Challenge

It is hard to believe that we only have one week left in this challenge. I have had such a good experience this time. I have been sticking to my system of accomplishing my daily writing before I get out of bed in the morning. The iPad has really been a Godsend for me, in more ways than one. I write whatever comes to mind, and then every few days I email the latest stories to myself so that I can get them on my laptop. There may be a better way to do this, but so far this has worked for me. Once I download the stories onto my laptop, I then copy and paste them into Scrivener, the writing software that I downloaded. Again, there may be a more efficient way to do this, but I haven't found it yet.

I downloaded the trial version of the software just to make sure that it is something I think I would use before purchasing it. One thing I appreciate is that instead of the trial being over in 30 days, it counts the number of days you actually open the software. So I didn't lose any days by being out of town last weekend. I think I will end up buying the program. It is basically a management system allowing the writer to organize notes, concepts, research and whole documents for easy access and reference. You can import other documents, PDFs, photos and even video. They offer some good tutorial videos, but so far I have only watched the introductory one. I am sure there are many more things I could be doing with the program. But for right now I want to focus my time on the writing aspect so I can keep up with the challenge. Then I will set aside a day to watch the tutorials to see all that the software has to offer.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Researching House History Presentation

Today was my presentation at The Heights on how to research the history of a home. I arrived an hour early because I have a phobia that the electronic equipment will not work and I'll be stuck with a poor presentation. While some talks can be handled with no visual aids, this particular one would be very difficult to do without my slides. The first words out of the tech guy's mouth were that he could not find the cord to connect their projector to my laptop. Words to warm every presenter's heart. He ended up finding a different projector and we went to work connecting the two machines. I normally work with a Mac, but most facilities do not own the cord to connect a Mac to their projector, so I brought Jim's PC laptop along. We finally got the two machines to talk to each other, but the full slide would not show up on the big screen even though it was full screen on the PC. While the situation was not ideal, I could make do with it if I had to in a pinch. Fortunately someone in the audience suggested that I press Control, F7. Sure enough, that did the trick! And I was ready to go 10 minutes early.

There were only about 10 people in the audience, which was a little disappointing. As Jim pointed out, it takes as much work to prepare for an audience of 10 as an audience of 1,000. (Well, except for running all the handouts!) But those who did attend were very engaged and had a few suggestions on resources they had used in researching their homes that I had not even considered. Plus I sold 3 copies of my book, and considering that 2 of the people in the room already had it that is not too bad. I am hoping that I can do more of these presentations because I really enjoyed it.

As an update to the CreateSpace debate, both the books I processed through CS are now live and available on Amazon. Woo, hoo!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 7 of the Family History Writing Challenge

rainbow this morning
We are now one week into the Family History Writing Challenge, and things are going well for me. My system so far has been to grab the iPad before I even get out of bed in the morning and complete my daily writing. I have lots of stories floating in my head, so coming up with something to write about has not been an issue so far. Last year for the challenge I wrote about my mom's family, going back to the first Crusham that I had found so far in Ireland. During that challenge I felt as if there was so much I didn't know about the country, the economy, and travel back then. I have continued to do research on the family and the times they lived in, but didn't want to pick back up with that family for this challenge.

One of the women in the writing challenge forum was sort of in the same position as me, so she is writing her story but intermingling it with stories of her ancestors. I am intrigued with this idea, and may try to tie my two together in the end. We'll see. We did not live in the same city as my ancestors while I was growing up, so I don't have a lot of extended family memories to draw upon. My sister could probably help me out with that since she was in Cincinnati until she was 11 years old. She also has a fantastic memory. We are hoping to make a trip to Cincinnati soon, so perhaps I will pick her brain about that during the drive.

Since I have been writing on the iPad I have done nothing with the program Scrivener that I downloaded last week, other than the fact that I watched a video tutorial. I should be able to take all the stories on the iPad and put them into the program on my Mac. So they say. We'll see if I can make that happen!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

CreateSpace Part Four

After much thought and input from others I have decided to go ahead and place From Buckeye to G.I. and Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? on Amazon through CreateSpace. If you do not have the original print books in front of you, I don't believe you will think anything of the ink intensity that is used by CreateSpace. I approved the book proofs and they immediately became available on the CreateSpace e-commerce site. It will take 7-10 business days for them to appear on the Amazon website. It will be interesting to see if I get any sales on Amazon.

On Saturday I will be doing a presentation on how to research the history of a home in conjunction with the City of Richmond Heights. The city is celebrating its centennial in 2013, and they have a year's worth of activities lined up. I am honored to be part of the festivities, and am hopeful we will have a good turnout. If I sell some books at the event, that would be great as well.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge

one of my journals
For the second year in a row I am participating in the Family History Writing Challenge. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do it since I have not done anything with the writing I completed last February. But then a post in the daily motivational newsletter from The Armchair Genealogist caught my eye. "It's not just about your ancestors. It's also about you!" I could approach this year's challenge from my perspective - my stories and my memories. I have been writing some of them down recently anyway, so the challenge can help me keep on track.

This is day two of the challenge, so I better get cracking! I am going to download the trial version of a  writing program called Scrivener, as it has been recommended by many of my writing friends as a useful aid for organizing and writing long text documents. I will post a review of my thoughts on the program in the near future.