My grandfather’s handwriting analysis

Getting my grandfather's handwriting analyzedAs I mentioned last month, I sent a handwriting sample (a 30+ page letter) to certified handwriting analyst Nancy Douglas of Write Meaning. I’d seen her booth at RootsTech and was fascinated by the service she offered.

The letter was from my paternal grandfather, Dave Adams, to his fiancee (my grandmother), Beatrix Rasco. It was a sort of confessional: Dave wanted to give Bea full disclosure about his personal family history prior to their marrying. It was sent just a month before their wedding date.

Well, Nancy didn’t disappointed. She provided me with a six-page (singled-spaced) report detailing the personality traits revealed by my grandfather’s handwriting. She took into account the content of the letter and applied it to what she saw in the handwriting.

I read information like, “Dave’s capital letters are often embellished with large loops. Your grandfather was a showman who liked to attract attention and recognition.” And “His personal pronoun ‘I’ shows his mother and father were both very influential in his upbringing.”

She included photos of individual letters and words to illustrate what she meant. It was such a fun report to read!

I was in my twenties when my grandfather passed away. We lived in different towns and while I spent time with him, I don’t feel I knew his personality well. And growing up I certainly never thought about what he was like as a young man.

I think this handwriting analysis is going to be a wonderful springboard for conversation with my 84-year-old father. I have a hard time pulling stories out of him about his family and childhood. I think by bringing up what Nancy gleaned from my grandfather’s handwriting and asking him about it, I’ll hear some great stories about my grandfather.  I’ll also discuss the analysis with my mother and get her perspective on my grandfather’s personality.

Reading Nancy’s report made me want to have my own handwriting analyzed. I think I’ll treat myself to that this summer!

I paid $100 for my grandfather’s handwriting analysis, which feels like a huge bargain for what I received. If you some letters hanging around and curiosity about their writer, I encourage you to give it a try!

 

Free live streaming of select Jamboree sessions

Free live streaming of SCGS Jamboree!I’m very excited to be attending the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree June 5 to 7. (I loved the NGS conference so much, I’m ready for more learning!)

Here’s some great news: If you can’t attend in person, you can attend some of the sessions virtually. And there’s no charge, thanks to sponsor Ancestry.com.

Registration for live streaming is now open.  Once you register, you’ll have access to all streaming sessions. (You don’t have to register for individual sessions.) Four sessions will be streamed on Friday, six on Saturday and four on Sunday. You can see the list of streaming sessions on this Jamboree blog post. You don’t even have to be available that weekend; you can watch archived versions of the Jamboree live streams up until July 5. If you want to purchase recordings to keep forever, that’s another available option (and there are savings if you pre-order).

I’m also attending the DNA Day on June 4. Live streaming is available for that day as well, for a fee. You can watch any of a select six individual sessions for $20 each or all six for $99. The schedule is detailed in this post. These sessions are not archived or recorded.

SCGS is wonderful about educating the public. They offer free webinars twice a month. The fact that fourteen of the Jamboree sessions are being offered free of charge to genealogy enthusiasts everywhere is really laudable. I look forward to meeting these generous people!

 

 

Civil War pension records: a treasure trove

Civil War Pension Records are a treasure trove of informationAfter hearing an excellent talk at the NGS conference on what can be found in Civil War pension records stored at the National Archives, I placed an order for the records of three of my four Civil War veteran ancestors. (The fourth fought for the Confederacy, so his pension records would be with his state.) The fee was $80 per ancestor for the complete file and the application process was fairly straightforward. At the end, I was warned to expect it to take 45 to 120 days before I received any information.

Imagine my surprise (and delight) to receive a thick envelope from the National Archives in Washington D.C. today! It contained the pension records for my great great great grandfather, Richard Anderson Jeffries (1823-1914) who served in the Missouri infantry, Company D, 18th Regiment from 1861 to 1864.

I haven’t had a chance to go through the packet yet, but a glance shows me  that there are multiple applications for pensions as well as physicians’ affidavits.

I’m anxious to pore over it and unravel the story these documents tell. Luckily for me, Certified Genealogist Julie Miller, in her excellent talk, Anatomy of a Military Pension, gave step-by-step instructions on how to properly process the information found in these files. So I have my work cut out for me and I can’t wait!

If you have Civil War ancestors who fought for the Union and you have at least $80 to spend, I encourage you to hop over to the National Archives website (that link takes you directly to the application form starting point). If you have information on your ancestor’s military service (I found mine through Ancestry and Fold3), it’s easy to apply to receive a copy of the pension file. Those files have not been digitized, so the only way to look at them is to go to the National Archives or send away for them like I did.

How do you spell genealogy? P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E

Good genealogy takes patienceThe word that kept running through my mind as I took the excellent classes at last week’s National Genealogical Society’s conference is patience. As I listened to professional genealogists talk about strategies for success and skill building, I was reminded that good genealogy research takes time. It takes thoroughness. And it takes patience.

When I first dipped my toe into genealogy about 15 years ago, I went to an Internet cafe when I was visiting my parents (it was the days before I owned and traveled with a laptop), got on some website (probably Family Search) and started clicking through trees, going backwards in time. I created handwritten pedigree charts and was thrilled with how quickly my family tree grew.

I took everything at face value and evaluated nothing. By the time my “research” took me back to a Prince of Wales, I realized that perhaps some critical thinking was in order. I became overwhelmed at the notion of having to verify everything and put away those pedigree charts for almost a decade.

Six years ago, I decided to pick it up again and start from scratch. I’m using software now (Reunion) and nothing gets added to my tree without a source. The tree is growing slowly.

I figured out this year that I want my family tree branches to grow out, not up. While I appreciate the thrill of breaking into a new generation, I recognize now that I shouldn’t grow upward without taking the time to grow the branches outward. So I’m adding the siblings of my relatives to my tree, which can be painstaking. I’m also trying to add as many sources as possible to each fact.

In the NGS class that I mentioned in my last post, “But I’ve Looked Everywhere,” Barbara Vines Little says that we should have look for every sibling in every census. That takes patience. Combing through records, particularly unindexed records, takes patience. Figuring out alternate spellings to search or exploring friends, neighbors and associates to find elusive ancestors takes patience.

Yes, it can be thrilling to click backward in time, taking other people’s research at face value. Yet the rewards of patiently and thoroughly finding and citing sources are much greater. Good genealogists are patient people. They celebrate the small victories. And they move on to the next one, however long it may take.

Photo by Greg via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.