Do you have an Alias? I do now!

A few months ago I found a series of video tutorials by Ben Sayer at Genealogy Tools explaining his system for computer genealogy files. He put this series together in 2008, but they were new to me. I set up a few folders in this format and went on to something else. This week I’ve been back at it again. So far I really like this system and as I get the folders set up, I now have a designated place to put all my genealogy research and documents.

Woo hoo!

… because my filing system is a mess and there have been many times when I knew I had some thing some where, but I didn’t know where. What in the world did I name that file?

DSCN2643Unfortunately, this does not address my unorganized mess of physical files, folders, boxes, tabletops, closets, and desks. ūüôĀ

The basic idea is to create a master folder for your family history. I created one for my family, one for my husband’s family, and one for my step-father’s family.

Within the family history master folder, create two folders: Surnames and Places. Within the Surnames folder, make a folder for each surname. Then within each surname, create folders for individuals.

screensave surname folders copy

I like his format for naming folders for individuals because it addresses individuals who share the same name – just add dates…

screensave surname duplicate names

and it addresses married/maiden names.

screensave surname folders married names

It makes sense to me.

These videos do not suggest creating folders within the individual person folders, but I am doing that for some people. I have a lot of artifacts/memorabilia from my grandmothers, so I have made an Artifacts folder for each of them within their individual folders. In fact, I have so many that within the Artifact folders, I have made folders for Recipes and Newspaper clippings and I may decide to add more. I have a lot of one grandmother’s jewelry, for example, so I’ll make a Jewelry folder and add all the pictures I have taken.

screensave Eveline copy

The other thing I learned from these videos is how to make alias files. What a concept! A document – say a census record – may be in the individual file for the head of a household. I can create alias files for the other members of the family that show in their individual folders, but they aren’t really duplicated so don’t take up any additional space on my hard drive. Who knew? Not me!

And alias folders are great for married women. She can have a folder included under her husband’s surname as well as her own.

screensave richardson copy

I haven’t done much with the Places folders yet other than set up some of them. I still need to decide how I want to use them. Maps, obviously; pictures of homes; descriptions of towns; …. I also like his suggestion of using alias files for places where the name has changed over time.

Yesterday I worked on one of my uncles. If I had the date for whatever I was adding to his individual folder, I included the year immediately following his name when I named the file. This provided a partially chronological view within his individual folder.

screensave Al copy 2

You may notice that I took a shortcut within his individual folder and did not use his full name or the years of his life. Since they were already in his folder, I thought it would be ok.

These tutorials are for Mac users, but the filing system itself makes sense for anyone. The explanations are for beginners, so you may already know everything. I did not.

Here is the link to the first video. Links to subsequent videos are at the bottom of the linked post. The comments section of the posts have additional information about his system not addressed in the videos. (Where I have just now read that he puts census records into the Places folders and creates alias files for individual folders; he addresses what he does with photographs; and more.)

Do you have an organizational system that works for you? Please share in the comments.

Sepia Saturday – Smile!

Sepia Sat 05-25 2013Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

The prompt picture this week pays tribute to the human face. And, indeed, this face invites you to spend time studying her features; looking into her eyes; wondering about her thoughts. There is nothing to distract us from her face – not even the style of her hair.

When I was trying to come up with ideas for this week’s Sepia Saturday theme, I thought about¬†a few photographs I have with missing faces – faces that should be there, but have been forcibly removed. Faces we will not spend time contemplating.

Also this past week, Carole King became the first woman ever to win the Gerswhin Prize for Popular Song, an award given annually by the Library of Congress. Her 1971 album, Tapestry, was the background music to my late teen/early adult years. I played it over and over again, always from beginning to end.

I find that some days I still need a dose of Tapestry because there is a song there that speaks to the need of the day. Some days I need “Far Away.” Some days I need to hear that “You’ve Got a Friend.”¬†Some days I need to find shelter “Way Over Yonder.”

And some days I really need to hear “Beautiful” – either because I don’t feel particularly beautiful or because I don’t feel like facing the day ahead. Carole encourages me with each refrain that the day will be better if I face it with a smile:

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes, you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel.

As I listened to the¬†Tapestry¬†album this week, it crossed my mind that the women who cut themselves out of my photographs could have used a dose of advice from Carole. And what about those stern looking matriarchs of the family? Surely they weren’t as mean as they look in the photographs I have of them.

If only they had had Carole King’s encouragement singing within ….. Smile. Show the love in your heart. Or maybe treat yourself a little better and don’t cut yourself out of the picture. You probably don’t look as bad as you think you do.

My husband’s grandmother, Lena Morales, cut herself out of photographs on several occasions. Sometimes with just a raggedy tear.

Lena missing

My grandmother Abbie replaced her face (and my cousin’s) with a big heart.


I wanted to remove myself from the photo below. I arrived at school, hair unwashed and pulled back in a headband as a last resort, only to learn that it was picture day.

You can make me get my picture taken, but you can’t make me smile.

Kathy's 5th grade class

If only “Beautiful” had been written in time to help me and my “greats” realize that a smile can be the secret to beauty – or at least to a better photograph.

Susan Nancy Hendrickson Strange2

Susan Nancy Hendrickson Strange

Cecilia Jenkins copy

Celia Jenkins Harris


“I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.” – Audrey Hepburn

You will find many faces to contemplate at Sepia Saturday today. Go take a look.

P. S. if you read my Sepia Saturday post last week, you might recognize some of the faces from the class portrait – now two years older. Another post I could have prepared for today’s prompt!

Sepia Saturday – Recess on the Turning Bars

Sepia Sat May 18 2013Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

Turning on bars was the favorite recess activity for the girls in my class at Morrison Grade School in Great Bend, Kansas.

My family moved to Great Bend in the fall of 1961, after school had started. It was my second new town and new school in just a few months.¬†I was assigned to Mrs. Nossaman’s third grade class. In my mind’s eye, my view of Mrs. Nossaman is from left of center, about half-way back from the front. I sat between Susan and Ruth. ¬†Susan always looked a little unkempt and I thought her family must not have much money. Ruth was quiet and poised, but seemed fragile. She had had scarlet fever and couldn’t run around and play with us at recess. I thought that James, who lived down the street from me, was mean. I thought that John, who shared the same last name with me, was cute.

Kathy's 3rd grade class copy

Mrs. Nossaman’s 3rd Grade Class, Morrison Grade School, Great Bend KS 1961-62

I’m just left of center in the middle row – light colored hair pulled back and still styled in¬†ringlets¬†and wearing a white blouse with a little clock design printed on it.

House 2535 20th St.

Our house, 20th St., Great Bend, KS

To my left in the picture is the girl who had become my best friend, Katie. Our backyards abutted an alley and she lived a couple of houses down on the corner lot. Every morning I walked through my back yard; turned left down the alley; stuck my hand through the chain-link fence that surrounded her back yard so I could pet her pug, Sir Cedric Pogo III (aka Po); and then went to her front door to get Katie for our walk to school.

Mrs. Nossaman had the perfect cursive handwriting expected of an elementary school teacher. She enforced the rules of her classroom and set high expectations. I don’t remember why exactly, but something about our relationship got off on the wrong foot. She must have called attention to me as the new kid in some way – for not following a class rule or something. Now that I think about it, it may have been my confusion at how to spell or pronounce her name.

LittleHousebookCoverThe wonderful thing I remember about Mrs. Nossaman, though, is that she read to us every day without fail. She sat at her desk or stood at the front of the class and read to us, one chapter at a time, from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie.” I fell in love with Laura and Ma and Pa and the books about them. And I could forgive Mrs. Nossaman for being kind of mean because this was my favorite part of the school day.

As you can see from the picture above, all of the girls are wearing dresses or skirts except for the girl front and center – clearly a girl ahead of her time. Since the turning bars were the domain of the girls at recess, the issue of us hanging upside down in our dresses was a matter of great concern to our teachers and the subject of school yard chants by the boys. A rule for recess was established that any girl wearing a dress was not allowed on the turning bars unless she was also wearing shorts or slacks under her dress. Sometimes girls forgot to wear the extra layer of clothing and would try to sneak in a turn or two on the bars without being seen by a teacher – or tattled on by someone who would like to see them get into trouble…¬†because it was no fun to stand idly by and watch your friends playing on the bars.

Just look at the long line of children on the bars in the prompt picture if you have any doubts.

Morrison Building Addition

The class portrait above was taken in front of the door that faces this playground.¬†You can see monkey bars and one of those bars you swing across with your hands (what do you call those?) and an open playground that we used for P. E. I remember playing field hockey, softball, and Red Rover there. I also remember sitting and waiting for my turn and one of the girls asking, “What’s wrong with your legs?” because I had bright purple capillaries on my thighs even at that age.

The turning bars we played on are not visible in this picture. They were in a play area on the other side of the building. Our bars were taller than those in the prompt photo. We turned facing forward like the children in the picture. We turned with one knee hooked over the bar. We turned backwards from a sitting position and flipped over onto our feet. And sometimes we just hung upside down by our knees.

I completed 3rd through 5th grades at Morrison Grade School and had barely started 6th grade when we moved again.

I don’t have a picture of my 4th grade class. I can’t remember the name of my teacher. I can’t remember what she looked like. I can’t remember who was in class with me. I have only a few vague impressions of that year. I think I would have no memories at all if I had no photographs!

Thankfully, I have a picture of my 5th grade class to help me remember that year. And, although I do remember the names of the kids I wrote about, I changed them.

One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was about 1st grade: 1st Grade Hairstory: Ringlets, a Peeled Onion, and a Clueless Boy.

There’s the bell! Run on over to the Sepia Saturday playground and see what everyone’s playing today.