Family History Held Hostage – Don’t Let This Happen To You

UPDATE: the Chicago Tribune is now reporting that arrangements have been made to return the items to the family.

As I am getting ready to write my post for Data Backup Day tomorrow, I come across a local story here in the Chicagoland area that just makes me sick.

It appears that several items including personal effects of the first servicewoman to die in the Afghanistan war were bought during a storage company auction. And now the new owner is holding them hostage and trying to sell them to the highest bidder despite pleas from the fallen veteran’s family. Click here to read it, if you can.

The story of Sgt. Jeanette Winters is one of service to our country and her passing is a loss for her family and a sad story. But when you add the tactics used by a local businessman, Mark Perko, to the story, the story becomes tragic.

Put yourself in the place of the Winters family: what if your own genealogy research or your own personal effects that were significant to your family’s history were to be misplaced, sold off at auction, or worse yet, thrown out with the trash.  Think it can’t happen? Perhaps you should read Michael John Neill’s powerful story Cleaning Mother’s House for another perspective.

So tomorrow as you back up your data (you will back up your genealogy data, right?) start to think about a New Year’s resolution for January 1st involving who will inherit all your hard work and research. If you don’t currently have any estate planning documents, make plans to do so now.  And if you have made such preparations, please make sure you’ve mentioned what should happen to your genealogy research and family keepsakes in your possession.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

WikiTree Widgets – Your Input Needed

WikiTree widget

I’ve been asked by Chris Whitten of WikiTree to solicit feedback from the genealogy blogging community on a participation widget he is developing for WikiTree.

The concept is this: as a WikiTree participant you can let others know your recent edits on your WikiTree page. The widget will not only help communicate some of the surnames you are researching but also attract others to build their own WikiTree pages.

To help out with the selection, first visit the page of draft widgets here. Each widget is labeled with a letter (a, b, c, etc.). Then leave your feedback in the comments on this post. I won’t post my comments right away since I don’t want to skew the discussion but I do have my favorites already!

You can also leave feedback at the WikiTree page at Facebook – just post a comment on their wall or in the Discussion section.

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I want to thank Chris for reaching out to the genealogy blogger community.  More and more genealogy vendors and service providers are realizing how genealogy bloggers can help to shape the genealogy industry through their input and opinions.  WikiTree has consistently made an effort to reach out to the genealogy community and should be commended for doing so.

You can read more about WikiTree here at GeneaBloggers in a review of the product and an interview with Chris Whitten.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Have You Decorated Your Blog for the Holidays?

Holiday blog decorating

As I am preparing for the launch of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories as well as digging my own Christmas ornaments out of the closet for my own tree, I realized it was time to deck out my own personal genealogy blog – Destination: Austin Family – for the holidays! Take a look here.

If you are interested in changing your own blog template for the holiday season (and there are a variety including winter themes, Hanukkah themes, Kwanzaa themes and more!), then take a look at our Resources for Holiday Blog Decorating there at GeneaBloggers.

Included in the resources are two “how to” videos – one on how to back up your Blogger template and another on how to change your template for the holidays.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee