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Red Cross 1942

Propaganda poster to promote knitting for the troops during WWI. Circa 1914-1918.

Propaganda poster to promote knitting for the troops during WWI. Circa 1914-1918.

For all of you history buffs who are knitting fanatics, too.  (C'mon, I know I'm not the only one!) I thought you'd find this as fantastic as I did! It is a collection of patterns from the Red Cross for soldiers at war during World War II. 

I love propaganda posters.  I love how they become timeless emblems of a nation united for a cause.  The idea of knitting for soldiers during times of war is far from a new one obviously.  But the thought of being so generous during times of great poverty, when everything from clothing to food was being rationed.   Did you know during WWII that women's clothing was limited to no more than three buttons? (A good thing to know when you are shopping for vintage buttons!) 

Yet the willingness to fill the need, ripping apart old clothing to make clothing for the men fighting overseas, phenomenal. 

One of my favorite little details about these patterns is that they aren't simply retyped... they are actual scanned images of the original patterns, yellowed, tattered edges and all!


I hope you all enjoy, to see the patterns Click Here!

Getting Started With Organization

The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.
— Marcus Aurelius

We have talked about how setting goals can help propel your family history research, but there is another hurdle that can interfere with your trajectory: disorganization.  Yes, I said it.  And I already know that when you read that word you let out a groan of frustration.  We're researchers, not organizers! 

In the heat of the moment, the excitement of the hunt for details, facts and information about our ancestors, it can be all to easy to just hit print thirty times and leave the stack of papers sitting in a stack on our desk (...or the floor, or the dining room table).  Then, weeks later, you know you printed it... somewhere? In this stack? In that? In the closet? Maybe you ought to check the accordian binder your significant other bought you out of frustration with the stacks of paper in every corner of the counter, the table (and even, you are embarrassed to admit, under your bed)! But, let's be real, when was the last time you used that accordian binder? Would you even be able to fit half of your papers in there? Probably not. 

January is National Organization Month, and a great time to use that New Year Resolution motivation your feeling help you get your genealogy information organized.  

For the month of January we're going to start a weekly series called The Organized Genealogist, we're going to cover some simple measures you can take to get and keep your genealogy information organized. 

Research Trip to Sherburne History Center


I'm a bit shocked that this was my first time visiting the Sherburne History Center, but it was! I was stunned by the beautiful facility, and the staff was very friendly and helpful.  Their materials were very well organized and easy to find.

I can't say enough good things about this place!  I'm sure I'll be back there again soon to collect more information.

Have you ever visited a local historical society?  What was your experience?

Google's Birthday: Remember when...

My morning ritual is pretty standard. Start the coffee and sit down to check my e-mails before getting on with my work for the day. My home page (like so many others) is set to Google.


It's Google's 14th birthday. Gosh, it couldn't have been 14 years could it? Google has become such an integral part of our daily lives that it has actually become a commonly used verb. Have a silly question? A random factoid to check? Just GOOGLE it!

Do you remember the first time you ever used Google?

I do. I was in one of my first "Technology classes" (mostly an excuse to play SimCity for an hour), and we had a project... I can't remember what the project was, but I do remember using Google to search for information. I also remember using but in retrospect I suppose that doesn't seem nearly as monumental as the first time I "googled" something!

Where were you when you first used Google?

Endangered Cemeteries: Preserving Overlooked Historic Sites

Historical enthusiasts are often quite over-spoken about their passion for preservation,  especially when it comes to books, landmarks, or homes.   But what do we do when one of our richest connections to the past, the places where our ancestors lie, go unmaintained?  What happens when they are vandalized and overgrown with brush to the point where they are unapproachable?

Copy Editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Jim Anderson, in his July 24th article "Graveyards Where History Lives On,"  talks about a couple of Washington County graveyards which have been recognized as historically significant places.  One which has been well maintained and looked after, and one in which crumbling head markers and years of neglect are starkly obvious.  The article goes on to say:

There are more than 4,000 cemeteries and farm burial grounds in Minnesota; many are abandoned or under threat of vandalism and neglect, their history forgotten. "I would call it a significant problem," said Bonnie McDonald, executive director of the Minnesota Preservation Alliance.

A significant problem indeed.  I can't begin to convey how many times I have relied upon headstones as a source of information in my research, they truly portray invaluable information about the course of a person's life.  Not to mention the emotional connection I feel with my own ancestor's final resting places. 

So, what can we do about it?

There is a movement right now going on among historians, genealogists and hobbyists of all levels and backgrounds to transcribe headstone listings.  Using the Internet to keep record of the massive lists of names and dates and even photographs of the stones themselves.  Some amazing resources exist for those who either can't travel to the cemetery where their ancestors are buried or are just starting out in their research, to name a few:


If you are so lucky as to be able to visit the cemetery where your ancestors are buried, realize, it likely will not be around forever.  Take as much information as you can, transcribe, take a rubbing, or a photograph.  Next, you may consider donating that information to one or more of the websites dedicated to preserving such information.  Many companies, such as The Historium, who do some of this research on behalf of clients, will offer you the chance to sign a waiver, allowing them to donate information like this to the applicable societies and web resources, that way, the information about these people will hopefully never vanish entirely. 

In history, it is important to remember that the information you are looking at has significance to more than just your individual subject, it belongs to a greater context.  Cemeteries don't just serve as filing cabinets for names and dates of seemingly insignificant events, they tell a story of the origin of a town.  Graveyards portray an intimate look at the times, lives, and circumstances that woven together create cities, counties, and territories.  Of course, there are also other ways to help: contacting historical societies, preservation associations, and even local and state government can help to rectify the situation, there is often a need for man-power and monetary support.  Even though fighting the passage of time can seem relentlessly tedious and sometimes even hopeless, it is so very important that these records remain.

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