You Can’t Take It with You!

Preserving & Sharing Our Family Treasures

2016 DGS Summer Seminar – July 29 & 30, 2016


Most of us have some family treasures we deem worthy of preservation. My mother saved many certificates and diplomas marking achievements and graduations in her life. Many of these documents were rolled and then bound by satin ribbons. Among the diplomas was her 1937 college diploma written in Latin on sheepskin and signed by her cousin, the college Dean. After Mom died Dad saved all of these documents, which I now have.

My father was an anti-hoarder, a possession minimalist. So, what he did keep might reflect what was most important to him: a hand-stitched, khaki green, cloth bag containing a crucifix and sown-on religious medals; a Teamster’s Union pin; a prayer folded to fit in the inside band of his cap. His personal treasures – left behind, never mentioned, now in my possession.

There was also a handful of objects in our home that came from my parents’ ancestors. Mom had her father’s wooden-handled hand drill and a doll someone brought home from a pre-WWII trip to Holland. Dad had a small variety of objects: his immigrant Irish grandfather’s shillelagh; a large framed studio photograph of his mother at age 13-16; a cup and saucer originating in some unclear fashion from his immigrant Scottish grandfather, who was a potter; and a pair of leather mittens lined with a soft fur that he brought home from his European tour in WWII.

I have my grandfather’s drill and one of my sisters has the Dutch doll. I know Dad gave his Mom’s photograph to his youngest sister and the cup and saucer to another of his daughters. I don’t know the whereabouts of the shillelagh or the mittens.

Lastly, one day in the 1970’s a trunk arrived from Dad’s recently deceased aunt, his mother’s sister. Among other objects, it contained a collection of costume jewelry and four matching bowls and plates. I have this pottery, which I discovered was made in the Mount Clemens pottery in Michigan where my Dad’s uncle worked. This uncle was also a potter and a brother of my Dad’s mother.

These few objects are the “stuff” of my parents that has remained, some of it with me and some not. I ask myself: What am I going to do with this stuff? Will any family members want it after I can no longer care for it?


I have also accumulated many pictures and records documenting my family’s history. How best should I preserve them? How can I assure that my keepsakes and records pass on to a loving steward?

I expect Denise Levenick will have some answers for me and many others asking similar questions. I am very happy that she is coming to speak at the Dallas Genealogical Society’s summer seminar, July 29th and 30th.

I heard Denise speak at Rootstech 2014 in Salt Lake City. I was impressed by the range and depth of her knowledge about preservation. She brings sound archival practice within the reach of many of us. She understands the challenges we face. Her tips and techniques are practical and affordable. I think of her as the original “DIY Family Curator”.

Among the topics she will address, we are fortunate that she will be presenting “Estate Planning for Genealogists”, a topic debuting this July in Denise’s course, Family Archiving: Heirlooms in the Digital Age, at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). This timely presentation is just one reason to attend the Summer Seminar!

You Can’t Take it with You: Estate Planning for Genealogists” — Who will care for your family archive when you’re gone? This session will look at creative solutions for distributing family heirlooms when settling an estate, how to be an attractive donor to institutional archives, and how to prepare a simple genealogical codicil. We’ll also discuss options for preserving your family history stories and photos in legacy online digital archives.
– Denise May Levenick

I am also excited about the “Heirloom Roadshow” Denise will be hosting. People have already submitted interesting preservation challenges for the Roadshow. This interactive session should be a lot of fun! You can submit your heirloom to the Roadshow online.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to register for Denise’s seminar!

Early registration ends July 10th!

Preserving & Sharing Our Family Treasures

Friday – Saturday, July 29 – 30, 2016

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM

1st floor Auditorium | J. Erik Jonsson Central Library
1515 Young Street | Dallas Texas, 75201

DGS Brown Bag SIG Meets This Saturday, June 25

Brown Bag SIG

The June meeting of Dallas Genealogical Society’s Brown Bag interest group will be held this Saturday the 25th from 10:30am to 1pm on the 8th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas TX 75201.

The Brown Bag SIG is for genealogists who want to learn advanced methodology skills and techniques. The group studies best practices, including using the Genealogical Proof Standard.

June program:  “Guide to Genealogical Writing” (New England Historical and Genealogical Society), Chapter 5: Adding Citations.

Meetings are free and open to the public.

Leader: Janet Khashab;

DGS Jewish Interest Group Meets This Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jewish SIG

The June meeting of the Dallas Genealogical Society’s Jewish SIG will be held this Wednesday, the 15th from 10am to 1pm on the 8th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street. Dallas, TX 75201.

Learn the terminology of the Jewish faith and race, and the various methods for researching these families. Emphasis is on cultural differences (from other races and creeds) which may require alternative genealogical research methods and records from those usually employed. Domestic (United States) and international aspects are both explored.

The meetings are free and open to the public.

Leader: Liz Kutz,

DGS MacGen SIG Meets Saturday, June 11


MacGen Reunion SIG

The June meeting of Dallas Genealogical Society’s MacGen Reunion Group will be held on Saturday, the 11th from 1pm to 3pm on the 8th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas, TX 75201.



  • getting your family tree (or a portion of it) onto to the Internet
  • review of the 2015 updated version of Herds, genealogy software program

Leader: Happi McQuirk,

Preserving Our “Stuff”

Join the Dallas Genealogy Society on July 29 & 30, 2016
Denise Levenick presents a 7-part program:
Preserving & Sharing Our Family History


News came to us yesterday of the death on May 2, 2016 of Margaret Ann (Schmidt) Hudson (1943-2016). Margaret Ann was an avid genealogist who served the DGS over many years in several capacities, including president in 1983-1984. Her obituary states that “in her pursuit of family history and stories, she amassed a substantial collection of materials and documents.”1 Her son, Matthew Hudson, fondly noted that Margaret Ann gave books of genealogical charts to each of her children.


Another son, James Hudson, reported in a Dallas Morning News blog that his grandfather and Margaret Ann’s father-in-law, Elmore Hudson, left a massive collection of photographs and negatives. Included in his collection were several 1936 photos capturing the construction and early days of Fair Park buildings in Dallas, Texas. Margaret Ann alerted James to the collection and the family subsequently preserved “each picture and negative in acid-free sleeves, numbered, [and] boxed.”2


Denise May Levenick

Denise May Levenick, our DGS Summer Seminar speaker, comments in her blog (The Family Curator) that “in every family, someone ends up with “the stuff”.”3 Margaret Ann Hudson organized and published her research findings and passed them on to her children in book form. Her children, in turn, preserved and shared their grandfather’s photography collection. These are two examples of  wonderful outcomes for any family historian!

All family history researchers have “stuff” –
usually, lots of stuff.

As in the case of Elmore Hudson’s photographic collection, some of our personal collections are well-organized and preserved using good archival practices. But the reality for many of us is that our stuff consists of a challenging array of physical and digital formats and is stored or stashed in every conceivable manner.


We know our research records and family treasures are valuable and vulnerable. We want practical approaches to organization, preservation, and sharing that do not require advanced technical degrees and small fortunes to implement.

When Denise Levenick inherited her grandmother’s trunk filled with photos, documents, and family keepsakes, she set about adapting archival practices for the organization and preservation of these family treasures. She understands the challenges we face in organizing, preserving, sharing, and passing on our family records, keepsakes, and miscellaneous “stuff”. She feels our pain.

Denise Levenick | July 29 & 30, 2016
Preserving & Sharing Our Family History


Denise’s 20 plus years of research and practice resulted in her blog, which contains practical tips, techniques, and DIY projects. She has also published two books: How to Archive Family Keepsakes and How to Archive Family Photos. 

Denise is a frequent contributor to family history magazines and online publications, and presenter for webinars and workshops. She is also a member of the 2016 faculty for the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh.

Register now for this Special Event!

1. “In memory of Margaret Ann Hudson,” Dignity Memorial, Memorial Funeral Chapel College Station, ( : accessed 5 June 2016).

2. Wilonsky, Robert. “The story behind a stack of rarely seen photos of Fair Park under construction in 1936,” The Dallas Morning News, City Hall Blog, 3 June 2016 ( : accessed 5 June 2016), paras. 8 & 11.

3. Levenick, Denise May. “About Denise Levenick, The Family Curator,” The Family Curator, 2016 ( : accessed 5 June 2016), para. 1.

Probate Record Update

May was another productive month for the Probate Indexing project… a total of 159 cases were completed, bringing us to a total of 584 (just a hair under 19%).

Congratulations (and deep gratitude) to our indexers:

  • Karen Walker (60)
  • Joe Connelly (47)
  • Gloria Goodwin (28)
  • John Withers (19)
  • Susan Rainwater (4)
  • Tony Hanson (1)

Anybody interested in lending a hand can see which cases we are working on and get full details on our Volunteer SignUp Page.