Houstory Herd: ‘Origins’ Podcast

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

On this this third episode of “Houstories: The Stories of Home” podcast (entitled “Origins”), we pack up for a weekend trip. Not just any trip, though: My first hunting trip. Initially, my goal is to discover the origins of the food I eat by going to the source (in this case small game in Central Oregon). However, along the way, I discover the origins of a unique family cabin constructed with nearly 100 percent recycled materials!

A shell casing near the homestead.

A shell casing near the homestead.

Sense a theme here? Make sure to check out the pictures later in this post to see images from a very interesting weekend.

EpThreeCover

Paul Bloom spoke of, “The Origins of Pleasure” in a TED Talk several years ago (see video link in this article). In it, he talked about the pleasure — and often monetary value — associated with knowing the story behind objects.

 

“So one reason why you might like something is its utility,” he said. “You can put shoes on your feet; you can play golf with golf clubs; and chewed up bubble gum doesn’t do anything at all for you. But each of these three objects has value above and beyond what it can do for you based on its history. The golf clubs were owned by John F. Kennedy and sold for three-quarters of a million dollars at auction. The bubble gum was chewed up by pop star Britney Spears and sold for several hundreds of dollars. And in fact, there’s a thriving market in the partially eaten food of beloved people. (Laughter) The shoes are perhaps the most valuable of all. According to an unconfirmed report, a Saudi millionaire offered 10 million dollars for this pair of shoes. They were the ones thrown at George Bush at an Iraqi press conference several years ago.”

Without a doubt, origin stories are powerful (and often times valuable) things.

We also asked our good friend Denise Levenick, aka The Family Curator, five questions that have nothing to do with family history, genealogy, family heirlooms or house history. The way she performed, I’m pretty sure she’s done this before. Well played, Denise!

Denise Levenick, The Family Curator

Denise Levenick, The Family Curator

Mike also told you of his “Tinker Tour” adventures, and his eventual path to the Playboy Mansion, where he hand-delivered a Home History Book to one of the most famous homes on Planet Earth. You can read about both of these here.

Finally, if you like what you hear on our podcast and you have a spare moment, would you mind giving us a good review on iTunes?

LISTEN HERE! WELL, NOT HERE. JUST BELOW. YOU GET THE POINT.

 

Back-to-school ideas for budding family historians

If it’s September, it’s back to school: learning new things, meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it’s also the beginning of the end of long summer days and the return to more indoor activities.

With this in mind — and the perfect “genealogy weather” on the horizon — Mike and I thought it would be a good time to see what sort of educational resources exist (particularly those aimed at kids) that might spark an interest in learning about their family history, helping them feel connected to the bigger picture and their place in it.

As the folks at Family Search note, Many people desire to know where they come from, but a sense of belonging is especially important for children and youth. A knowledge about their family history gives children of all ages a sense of their place in the world.”

Not surprisingly, Family Search is one of our favorite resources for inspiring budding family historians.  While the site is large and contains a number of helpful resources, a good starting place is their Youth Wiki Page where they’ve listed several activities and loads of resources. Many of the activities are aimed at stimulating discussion between generations while such sharing can still occur. It’s a theme we talk about frequently at Houstory. It includes such things a list of basic questions a young person can ask when interviewing an older ancestor.

Another useful site is Family Tree Kids! hosted by our friends at Family Tree magazine. The site includes a “Junior Toolkit” with links to basic family tree forms that kids can use to trace their roots and instructions, tips for making a family reunions “kid friendly” and — as Halloween approaches — instructions for creating a tombstone rubbing. The site also includes information about resources aimed at parents and teachers.

And since we’re all about telling the story of important family stuff (aka family heirlooms), we especially liked the “My Family! My Story!” Genealogy Project Series created by the Victoria Genealogical Society, which includes tips for preserving the stories of family keepsakes. As FamilySearch notes, for young people especially, “holding something that once belonged to an ancestor can be a powerful experience. Pictures and heirlooms make the past come alive.”

Send us your obits contest!

Finally, we still challenge listeners to send us a paragraph of your own obit! Yes, your living obituary — just like the one I penned for my father-in-law. If we read your words on air during our next podcast, we will send you a pack of Heirloom Registry labels so you can preserve and pass on the stories of your family heirlooms. Send those entries to info (at) houstory (dot) com. (If you just want to inspire others, but would prefer we not use your real name when reading it, let us know.)

Now, on to The Herd for this month…

HERD-Sustainability

Author: The New York Times

TitleA Project to Turn Corpses Into Compost

Herd-Worthy Because: Planning ahead isn’t just about end-of-life care or estate planning. Think to the very end and become plant food! “Composting makes people think of banana peels and coffee grounds..(but) our bodies have nutrients. What if we could grow new life after we’ve died?”

Family Heirlooms

Author, WBUR

TitleThe Value Of Family Heirlooms In A Digital Age

Herd-Worthy Because: “How long can we expect mementos to remain valued by a younger generation three generations removed from the original owner?”

Family History

Author: The Weekly Genealogist, a publication of the New England Historic Genealogy Society

Title: “Share Your Story at Family History Day

Herd-Worthy Because: Family stories connect us to loved ones, the past, and each other. The New England Historic Genealogy Society invites you to Share the Story of a Lifetime at our 2015 Family History Day on Saturday, October 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. This day of lectures, demonstrations, and consultations with genealogical experts will help you learn about essential resources and delve deeper into your family history. Visit AmericanAmerican.org/FHD to register and learn more about the day’s events. Special offers available for members, students, and groups. Presented by American Ancestors (NEHGS), with the special participation.

house history

Author: The Weekly Genealogist, a publication of the New England Historic Genealogy Society

Title: “Why old places matter: Here are 14 reasons

Herd-Worthy Because: “Mayes came up with his 14 reasons by making site visits to historic places, reading articles and books on the subject and conducting interviews with people outside the preservation field — people such as archaeologists, architects, historians, artists, developers, writers and businessmen.”

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Houstory Herd: We Want HouStories

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Do you own a family heirloom with an interesting story? Do you live in a house that has a compelling history? Would you like to share these tales and other related HouStories with others?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, we need to talk.

We’d appreciate the opportunity to connect with you about the possibility of making your story a part of our new podcast. In case you didn’t hear, episode 1 of the podcast was unveiled a few weeks ago, and No. 2 is on the way shortly. In the meantime, we want to line up some good stories for future episodes.

Why should you do this? Your story can help inspire other Houstorians to preserve and share their own houstories. I can’t tell you how many times I hear our customers and supporters say: “Boy, that is a great idea. I should document and share the stories behind my house and family heirlooms.”

And then they put it off, forget about it and wish they had done so later. Your words may help others to take a few precious moments to save those stories.

Drop us a line to talk about that old Craftsman home that your mom and dad bought during the Depression, or chat about Uncle Theo’s rocking chair or Grandma Patty’s quilt. Shoot us an e-mail at info (at) houstory (dot) com, or hit us up at our Facebook, Google+ (Home History Book & Heirloom Registry) or Twitter accounts. We hope to hear from some of you.

Now, on to The Herd for this month…

Continue reading

Houstory Herd: Looking Ahead Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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This year, as you gathered with family, did you get serious about your family history? As you kicked back the eggnog and knocked back the ubiquitous holiday treats (my lord, my office is bombarded!), did you take this precious time to gather stories? Did you sit with your brothers and sisters, your moms and dads and your grandparents, and simply ask and listen?

 

#NoMoreStuff, family history

Dan with much better half, Tasi, during the holidays.

Obviously, I hope you did. But no worries if you didn’t. That’s what New Years resolutions are for, right? Looking ahead, let’s make it our goal to record these stories. Let’s also get serious about getting ready for the great beyond. Many discussions about estate planning and delegating family heirlooms will likely start with family history conversations.

Don’t be afraid of it. Do it. You’ll be thankful you did.

family curator, family heirlooms

Thank you Family Curator for supporting our #NoMoreStuff campaign!

Before I get to the “meat” of The Herd, I want to thank those of you who supported our #NoMoreStuff campaign. Mike and I, the Houstory Brothers, are appreciative. As a token of our gratitude, please check out the attached (goofy) video that details a free gift we’d like to give you.

We look forward to celebrating the New Year with all of you!

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen recently that we feel our fellow Houstorians would be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Author: connectmidmissouri.com— Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleTreasure the Heirlooms in Your Family Tree

Herd-Worthy Because: “The mere sight of the trunk served to remind my grandmother of where she came from, and the details of her life -sometimes sad, sometimes happy, always emotional.”

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Author: MarketWatch

TitleThis Thanksgiving, share your family’s ‘money history

Herd-Worthy Because: “For many households, the coming weekend offers the best, and perhaps only, time this year when everyone will be together to tackle family finances and long-term planning decisions. Here’s how to do it—without spoiling the holiday.” Also, as an added bonus (aren’t we generous?!) check out this article on how, “Discussion might ease transfer of family heirlooms.”

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Author: The Spectrum (Utah)

TitleHow to monetize your heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: “Whether you want to get rid of it all at once, or little bits over time, selling some of your items now might be a good option. This may give you a modest financial bump, make it easier for your heirs to manage your property, make it easier to move or declutter your retirement home.” We would add: register them at The Heirloom Registry to add even more unique value!

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Author: The Star (Toronto)

TitleI don’t have any heirs. So what do I do with my stuff?

Herd-Worthy Because: “There are stories attached to all these things — funny, sad, ironic and occasionally downright weird. But without a younger generation to tell them to, the clock, the gun and everything else I’ve salvaged just become so much … stuff.” I really couldn’t say it any better myself.

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Author: The Star (Toronto)

TitleFamily Heirlooms: The Ultimate Holiday Regift

Herd-Worthy Because: Our good friend Denise Levenick (aka “The Family Curator”) wrote some nice words about our #NoMoreStuff campaign, and even developed a handy-dandy form that you can use to save the stories behind your family heirlooms. Check it out!

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Author: NPR (and thanks to my wife, Tasi, for passing this on)

TitleA Premature Obituary Can Be A Sweet — If Strange — Gift

Herd-Worthy Because: “Maybe it would be a good exercise — even a gift, in the holiday season — to help write a brief obituary for someone you love while they are still vibrant, alive, and able to appreciate it.” Doesn’t this sound familiar? 

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House History

Author: Los Angeles Times

Title“ Piatigorsky House is Gone, but Pieces of History Were Saved

Herd-Worthy Because: “‘The Piatigorsky house is being demolished,’ she said. ‘We were their neighbors for 60 years.’ Los Angeles was losing part of its cultural history.”

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Author: Times of Trenton (New Jersey)

TitleBuoyed by memories after home sweet home is sold

Herd-Worthy Because: “The places we grow up never really leave us. They sit at our core and shape who we are. They are, as my mother wrote, the anchors for our childhoods.”

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Until we “Herd” again…

Houstory Herd: ‘Mourning’ Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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Guess what? You, me, and we are all going to die. In case you didn’t know: There is one finish line for everyone, and we are all going to cross it. We don’t know when or how, but it’s going to happen.

There, I said it.

Dying. Death. Dead.

For some of you, this may be uncomfortable to read about. For others, perhaps a feeling of resignation, and for others fear (and/or all sorts of emotions in between). I say all reactions are valid. I also say, “let’s talk.”

When we talk about death, really we are talking about the living. The survivors. The family members and friends left behind to pick up the pieces, to organize the memorials, to execute the wills, to deal with the pain of loss. So if death is really about the struggles of the living, why don’t we do more to prepare for the big finish?

In my universe, death is not an end, but simply a part of the story arc. Take The Heirloom Registry, for example. I consider our service a key part of estate planning. For parents who take the time to jot down a few notes about a family heirloom — how it came into the family, why it’s important to a family’s history, to which family member it’s designated  — death is made a bit easier for children left behind. By taking the time to register what matters in your family, you’ll be helping your family members when you can’t be there.

Register now, rest in peace later.

I may need to work on that tagline, but you get the gist.

So what got me started on death this month? Well, it is Halloween for starters. Zombies. Vampires. Frankenstein. Just seems like a good fit.

I also was inspired by a New York Times article that highlighted three exhibitions of art associated with mourning and memorialization. In the article, the author asked if the topic was a bit too grim.

“I think it’s quite healthy,” said Mary Rockefeller Morgan, a psychotherapist and the author of “When Grief Calls Forth the Healing: A Memoir of Losing a Twin.” “Society is becoming open to the discussion of all types of topics that used to be forbidden, and people are longing to heal naturally in the sharing of grief.”

My sentiments exactly. So get to talking. Get to registering. And get to living.

PS: We are putting the finishing touches on our brand-spanking new podcast, which will be out in November so stay tuned!

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Author: The Fall River Spirit — Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleGreat-grandfather’s police notebook a window to the past

Herd-Worthy Because: “I get a glimpse of his world every time I pick up his fragile 93-year-old patrol notebook, the one with the frayed binding, yellowed pages and enviably elegant penmanship.” Yep, we’re in!

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Author: This Old House — Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

Title: Look What You Found During Your Renovations

Herd-Worthy Because: “From a homemade mousetrap to a fading Civil War tintype, the oddities readers have discovered in and around their homes surprised even us.” Time capsules are everywhere!

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Author: MarketWatch.com

TitleHow to prevent family feuds when it comes to your inheritance

Herd-Worthy Because: Register. Your. Heirlooms. Now.

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Author: New York Times

TitleExploring the Culture of Mourning

Herd-Worthy Because: “Death is not going to go away because we pretend it’s not there, and there needs to be a way culturally of dealing with this reality of life…” Or as Woody Allen put it: “I am not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Author: dallas news

Title“(Rocker) Phil Collins remembers the Alamo with donation of artifacts

Herd-Worthy Because: Have you ever really listened to 1985’s masterpiece, “No Jacket Required.” This was on steady rotation in the Hiestand house at that time. Now that Phil has entered my universe (or I guess I’ve entered his), I have to give the guy props.

House History

Author: House Beautiful

Title:5 Mansions With Major Dream House Potential

Herd-Worthy Because: With listing prices under $100,000, these homes, in our opinion, have major dream house potential.

Natural Resource

Author: DIY * Del * Ray

Title:  Cleaning Out Clutter: Where Can It Go Besides the Curb?

Herd-Worthy Because: Great common sense tips on what to do with the stuff you no longer need or want, especially for people who are downsizing households. Example: “I have a computer hard drive and a Kindle that have died. How can I recycle them without putting myself at risk for identity theft?” These types of questions will become more and more complicated as people acquire more and more stuff. You can recycle or reuse nearly anything if you slow down and take the time — including ideas!

 

Until we “Herd” again…

The Houstory Herd: ‘Seeking Family Heirloom Stories’ Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Do you know of someone who owns a family heirloom with an interesting story? As you know, family heirlooms can take many different shapes and sizes, and monetary value often plays little or no role in the item’s designation as a family keepsake.  If you were to take even five minutes to look around your home, I guarantee you could find several items you hold onto solely because of sentimental value and story. One way to make this determination: what would you take with you if your home was burning?

With all this mind, I have a favor to ask of our readers this month: We are creating a new, professionally produced podcast that will tell the stories behind family heirlooms. But to tell these stories, we need your stories.

 

family heirloom, keepsake

Collectibles are often sentimentally valuable, but not always financially so. (Photo: FOR FLORIDA TODAY )

Can you help us spread the word? Our mission is to preserve the stories behind as many family heirlooms (and houses) as possible, and to make sure they are not only documented but also accessible to the future.

And this all starts with you.

If you hear of or have stories you think might make the grade, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

 

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Natural Resource

Author: Story of Stuff

Title: “Sailing Past Plastic” – Podcast

Herd-Worthy Because: How do we end the, “take, make, waste cycle”? The Story of Stuff podcast, “The Good Stuff,” tries to answer this very question. On this episode: An interesting conversation about consumerism and one man sailing the seas on a journey to battle plastic pollution.

 

Author: Detroit Free Press

TitleWhen floods ruin family keepsakes, you can still hold on to the memories

Herd-Worthy Because: When disaster mixes with family keepsakes, the results can be tough pills to swallow. “How do you put a value on the things that hold memories? To most, that sewing machine looks old and uninteresting, with a replacement value of a few dollars. To me, it’s invaluable.”

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Author: Referred by NGS

Title: “Soup to Nuts: Tracing family history via great-great-grandmother’s skillets

Herd-Worthy Because: One woman’s reflections on her great-great grandmother’s keepsakes, and their place in her family history. “I’ll cook with them knowing that I am only their temporary caretaker. Some day, I’ll pass along the skillets – and the stories – to one of my nieces, and it’ll be her turn to ensure that the memory of these strong women lives on.”

 

Author: Florida Today

Title: “Care, communication key to deciding on keepsakes when loved one dies

Herd-Worthy Because: “It’s important, because this is the very thing that can tear a family apart — fighting over the one thing everybody thinks they should have.” Sad, but very true. Plan now so you don’t have to later.

 

Author: Referred by NGS

Title: “Saving New York’s Neighborhood History One Interview at a Time

Herd-Worthy Because: A very cool oral history project to save the legacy and stories of a quickly changing city of vibrant neighborhoods. How are you saving the stories behind your city, neighborhood, home and family?

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Until we “Herd” again…

The Houstory Hearth Herd – July 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

I’m curious: Were you born before 1946? In other words, are you a “pre-Baby Boomer?”

During the past few years, there have been an array of reports that have attempted to grasp how much wealth pre-baby boomers — those born before 1946 — are going to pass down to their kids and grandkids.

While all agree the number will set a new record for “intergenerational transfers,” the estimates are surprisingly varied, ranging from $25 trillion to $136 trillion according to one study.

Chances are, if you are in that pre-’46 demographic, you are not only passing down money, but also valuable possessions — including family heirlooms. And if you are not passing them down, you may be — gasp! — trying to sell them for a profit, or simply giving them away.

This month, I’ve included a link to a radio interview that discusses how challenging the market for selling and even giving away old furniture has become.

Now, I’d like to present my case for how The Heirloom Registry can help increase your odds of successfully parting with your treasured — but now unneeded — older furniture.

* Imagine a future Saturday spent antiquing with a friend or spouse. You are looking for a table. You see three tables, all essentially of the same look and quality. But one has an Heirloom Registry ID tag. You pull out your smart phone (or simply jot down the ID number), go to HeirloomRegistry.com and pull up the story behind the table. In a few seconds, you see this particular table was owned by a family in Central Texas that used to invite single war veterans over for Sunday dinner during the early ’50s. After eating dinner on this very table, they would often play cards, the registration says, “well into the night.” In fact, I don’t have to imagine: That is the story behind our table. And, after I spoke to the owner we bought it from, it’s all documented. If I had pressed (and I probably should have), perhaps the owner could have provided a black and white photo of the table — circa early 1950s — showing one of these gatherings. Perhaps with some of the people in the photo identified. It took me under 15 minutes to permanently tell the story of my table, which now includes a couple sentences — and a 2011 photo — about how it made its way to Oregon with my wife and I.  As you look at my future table on consignment in some future antique store full of people that care about history do you think my table — which otherwise looks just like the others — might have an edge? I’ll let you answer. 🙂

With that said, I know not everyone cares for stories. In fact, I’d say most people don’t. But for the few that “get it,” it makes a big difference. I’m guessing you care, or you probably wouldn’t still be reading.

Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-Sustainability

Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleCityLove: Meet Seattle

Herd-Worthy Because: Just showing my hometown some love. I’ve got a lot of pride in the Emerald City. This just gives me another reason. “Seattle really is green…Thinking about green in a preservation context, Seattle also has some great examples of medium- and large-scale adaptive reuse.” Oh, and “Go Hawks!”

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HERD-FamilyHeirlooms

Author: NPR’s Tell Me More

TitleIn a Tough Market for Old Furniture, Manage Your Expectations

Herd-Worthy Because: Hmmm, so it’s tough to sell your old furniture? And you need every advantage you can get to make it special? Sounds like a job for The Heirloom Registry. If people know the stories behind your items, that may be the difference bringing home the green or not.

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Author: Monsters & Critics

TitleBob Dylan’s Musical Keepsakes Worth Millions

Herd-Worthy Because: The answer, my friend, is somewhere underneath your bed. Or maybe stuffed into the closet. Perhaps the attic?

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Author: The Smithsonian

TitleThe Descendants of Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Donate Family Heirlooms to the Smithsonian

Herd-Worthy Because: Apparently, some pretty amazing Civil War-era objects spent about 100 years in an attic. And now, their storied past will give them a new life in a very public space. Umm…cool.

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Author: AL.com (Alabama)

TitleIdeas for Heirlooms: Wedding planners offer unique ways to incorporate something old into your big day

Herd-Worthy Because: For anyone who loves family heirlooms and is planning for that special day…

HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.

Author: The Huffington Post

TitleA Dying Man’s Touching Farewell

Herd-Worthy Because:  A man, dying of cancer, sends a farewell e-mail to friends and family as he tries to get his affairs in order. As someone who believes very strongly in living obits, and taking care of family heirloom designations and stories while you are still alive, this story struck me. Find out what happened.

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Author: NPR’s The Takeaway

Title: Student Pallbearers Serve the Underprivileged

Herd-Worthy Because: “Burying the dead, these students learn that every person is worthy of dignity and care, a lesson that makes them more conscious of how they treat the living.” In our opinion, dignity starts with story. And every person has a story.

HERD-HouseHistory

Author: Dick Eastman

TitleHow They Made Books in 1947”

Herd-Worthy Because: This video reminds me of the process we use for the Home History Book. What can we say?We like well-made books.

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Author: Dick Eastman

TitleUSGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer

Herd-Worthy Because: If genealogy guru Dick Eastman says,” This has to be one of the best tools I have seen for finding old maps,” then we in the Houstory Nation are paying attention. Sounds like a great tool for house history, eh?

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Referrer: Megan Smolenyak

TitleBBC’s The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window of Britain’s past

Herd-Worthy Because: Here is the synopsis of this BBC series: “Whether exploring London or Scotland, the series does an incredible job of connecting people to places, of teasing out emotions from architecture, of reminding us that buildings and streets are the locations for our own happiest and saddest moments.” Sometimes, I wish I had cable. Or, more specifically, the BBC. One of our favorite UK architectural historians, Melanie Backe-Hansen, is also mentioned prominently in the article.

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Until we “Herd” again…

 

 

The Houstory Hearth Herd – May 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me at LinkedIn!

When my father-in-law recently passed away, it took a considerable amount of time to sort through his online accounts. His Facebook page had to be closed, e-mail correspondence had to be attended to and online passwords had to be changed.

According to  Sue Doerfler of The Arizona Republic, these were, in effect, his “digital heirlooms.” She recently wrote about the topic.

I’m not sure if I’d call them “heirlooms,” but I understand the sentiment and these are things that need to be considered as we get older. This month’s Herd includes an interesting take on this subject.

The Herd also includes two submissions from Houstory Hearth reader Joan Hostetler of Indianapolis (see the really cool photo below). She put together two interesting pieces dealing with house histories and vintage photographs I encourage you to check out.

And then there are The Simpsons. TV’s No. 1 name in animated families. Did you know that I live in the city that inspired the Simpson’s Springfield? No joke. They’ve been around so long they have their own extremely detailed family history, and a book detailing their family tree will be coming out in September. Check out the link below. After you’ve read yourself blind, please let us know what you think with a short comment. We’d appreciate it!

house history, Indianapolis, photography, family history

Photo courtesy of Joan Hostetler.

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-HouseHistoryAuthor: Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services and a Houstory Hearth reader

Title: “Indianapolis Then and Now: 1939 and 1945 N. Pennsylvania Street

Herd-Worthy Because: Big thanks to Joan for contacting us and contributing this fantastic article that is both heirloom and house history. Our kind of story!

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Author: Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services and a Houstory Hearth reader

Title: “Indianapolis Then and Now: The Ryan/Gasaway Home, 1103 E. 9th Street

Herd-Worthy Because: The history of a modest frame cottage and the political occupant. Every house has a story. And this is an especially good one.

HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.Author: Jess Gilley, Technology Tell

Title: “The Simpsons Family History is hitting shelves this year

Herd-Worthy Because: Who doesn’t at least appreciate The Simpsons. And like I said, I’m Springfield Proud!

HERD-FamilyHeirloomsAuthor: BBC News (contributed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Title: “200-year-old recipe book heirloom given to family

Herd-Worthy Because:  Flummery. Calves head hashed. Shrewsbury cakes… Handwritten recipes, given to the author’s great-great-great-grandson. What’s not to like?

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AuthorMaureen Taylor (aka “The Photo Detective”)

Title: “Saving a Slice of Family History“;

Herd-Worthy Because: Sometimes, family history is deliciously edible.

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Author: Sue Doerfler, The Arizona Republic

Title: “Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: “Digital-asset planning is a fairly new concern for consumers as well as estate planners.” Sounds like it’s right up our alley.

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Author: Viralnova.com (referred to by Dick Eastman)

Title: “After His Death, This Grandpa’s Family Found a Trunk He Left Behind. What’s Inside is Fascinating

Herd-Worthy Because: A trunk proves to be a connection to the past. Unfortunately, as the article points out, much of the stuff — artwork, books —  left his heirs guessing. Every time I see or hear a story like this I think about what a gift an Heirloom Registry tag and just ten minutes of time to share the story behind the things he felt important enough to save in a special trunk would have meant to his family.

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Author: Jill Scharr, Tom’s Guide

Title: “3D Printing Recreates Long-Lost Family Heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: As the author states: “Have you ever wished your family still had that old necklace your grandmother was wearing in her wedding photo?” CRAZY!

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Author: Bustle

Title: “These Stilettos That Will Last 1,000 Years  Are Your New Family Heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: Even we don’t guarantee 1,000 years for our Home History Books (only several centuries). I wonder if the future will have any use for stilettos?

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Author: Dale Hrabi

Title: “The Instant Family Heirloom

Herd-Worthy Because: “”What if you could buy new furniture that’s practically guaranteed to become a timeless treasure?

 

Until next month’s herd…

 

 

Do you have family heirlooms that have a dark side?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

The family heirlooms universe is an interesting one. The stories behind these objects elicit a wide range of varying emotions — including some that fall on the “not-so-good” side of the ledger.

mein kampf, adolf hitler, family heirlooms

Some family heirlooms have very complicated histories.

 

I recently came across a dramatic example of this darker side of family history. Instructor Hinda Mandell, Ph.D., a Boston native, who teaches in the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology, recently wrote an article about a family heirloom that was potentially disturbing: a copy of Mein Kampf.

 

Because of the mystery surrounding the provenance of the item, she was inclined to investigate what could be an important, if chilling, part of her family’s genealogy. As part of that process, her husband made a movie about the experience. Much like houses,  family heirlooms do not always have a pleasant story to tell. However, good or bad, I think these stories are all a part of the human experience. I suppose that’s the journalist in me.

I did try to come up with a dark family heirloom story of my own, but I was unable to do so. Who knows, though? I’m sure there are a couple of objects in my family’s possession that fall in this arena, but I don’t know because these backgrounds have fallen by the wayside with the passage of time. If stories are not documented, they are easily lost.

Do you have any family heirlooms with a dark backstory? Do you think these stories should be documented and shared? Or are they better forgotten? Let us know what you think. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

 

 

How to hire a house historian

So you’ve decided to enlist some help when it comes to researching your home’s history, and want to hire a house historian.

Surprisingly, house historians — in the purest sense of the phrase — are not as prevalent as you might think. Houstory (fittingly pronounced “House-Story”), has been around several years now (since 2007), and we’ve made it our business to track down a growing collection of house historians to add to the company’s house historian search engine.

house historian, hiring

 

These are individuals we have entrusted to help owners of our product, The Home History Book archival journal, fill in the details of their home’s past. For real estate agents seeking a unique closing gift, or bed and breakfasts trying to share their historic property’s background, time is often of the essence and help researching this history is well worth the cost.

A house historian can be employed to write your entire home history, track down just your old tax records, find information about a particular owner — or something in between. Before you hire a home historian, do your research. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) have developed a handy checklist for the hiring process, as has historian Dan Curtis.

Are you a house historian? Or maybe you’ve worked with one you can recommend? We’d love to connect with you. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

Share your family heirloom stories with the Houstory Nation

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history bookSo, a little more than a year ago, I made this video you see posted. It tells the story of a very simple lamp. If you saw this gadget in person, you may think it was nice enough, but you wouldn’t know anything else about it.

It’s not old. It’s not particularly fancy. But it symbolizes an experience  — living abroad in Taiwan as an English teacher — that I think was very important to my life story. This brief tenure (2002-2005) helped to shape a lot of who I am, and how I see the world. For me, it’s a family heirloom.

However, if you saw the lamp, you wouldn’t know that — unless you found its Heirloom Registry registration number, displayed on its underside. Then you’d realize that within my world, this hunk of metal means a lot to me. And because of this significance, it will likely have some meaning to my descendants, whether now or 75 years from now when I’m most likely LONG gone (unless they develop some sort of amazing everlasting life serum. On a related note, where is Steve Guttenberg?)

Its story is safe and intact even if I’m not. For just a moment, I want you to imagine the power of finding an actual item (family heirloom) that once belonged to a long-since-departed relative. As a family historian, I would consider that a gift from the great beyond, and a powerful bridge to the past. By registering an item online and printing out its registration certificate off-line,  I’m trying to do the same for my heirs today.

I don’t have a lot I want to pass on to the future, but the things that truly matter…I’ve registered them safely with the Heirloom Registry.

So, my question to you, Houstory Nation, is this: Have you registered the stories that matter to you? We ALL have at least a few objects that hold more than face value. Take a look around your house tonight. If you were not here tomorrow, would anyone know what these objects symbolized in your life?

Let us know what matters to you. We’d love to share your stories, and you can help us inspire others to save these stories from disappearing forever. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.