Welcome to the 2010 iGene Awards, one of the Carnival of Genealogy (CoG) monthly themes. For my readers new to CoG, it offers genealogy bloggers a new topic each month for our blog posts. February is the month to highlight our best posts of the previous year in the categories you’ll see below–a fun “Academy Awards” for us family history devotees. I’ve squeaked into the competition–just like those movies that show up in the theaters at the very end of the year. I started my blog on November 16, 2010, but managed to find winners in each category. Thank you to Jasia at Creative Gene for making this all possible! 

Written by Josef Gärtz
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Josef and Natalie Portman as Lisi

Based upon his own diary, a 21-year old Transylvanian immigrant, Josef Gärtz, takes off for America on Christmas Eve, 1910. Too impatient to wait for proper papers, he leaves behind his sweetheart, Lisi Ebner, not knowing if he’ll ever see her again. Along the way, he must escape border patrol agents by clinging to the top of a roaring train, endure endless health inspections that could at any time derail his dream, and bid farewell to Europe, wondering if he’ll make it alive across a roiling and frigid Atlantic Sea.

Follow this serial adventure from its start, on December 24, 1910, brought to life again 100 years to the date after he wrote about it. 


Terror Atop the Train 12/24/10

“I can hardly wait to see what happens next on Josef’s voyage.” 



“It feels like Josef is writing to me. To have such a wonderful family resource is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it, 
and your photo choices add so much.” 


Jickeli Household Help. Lisi Ebner seated 2nd from left. Mrs. Jickeli, center in black.

Jickeli Household help, Elisabeth Ebner, my grandmother
seated 2nd from left

This photo is a winner because it not only shows my grandmother, Lisi Ebner, her employer (center), and co-workers, but also depicts the details of the domestic chores that ruled women’s lives when Lisi was a young woman. Equally as thrilling as seeing this photo and the people Lisi held dear (including the little girl at right, Lisbeth, for whom my grandmother was governess), was to find the message that had been hidden for the last century on the back of the framed picture. Find out for yourself by reading more about this Best Picture.


Another serialized winner, Lisi Ebner’s young life is revealed in these three posts which paint a picture of  a young woman dealing with early loss, finding her equilibrium again in a blended family, falling in love, and soldiering on through difficult times.

Young Josef Gärtz starts a notebook in which he records songs and off-color jokes (“moral and immoral contents” as he describes them.) His tongue-in-cheek reasons for purchasing the book, warning that it is not to be used to “instruct children” shows his cute sense of humor even when writing to himself.
This treasure deserves best documentary as the oldest indecipherable missive found thus far among scores of  letters written in an ancient German script and saved by my grandmother and now me over the past century. I published it on the 100th anniversary of its writing. It turned out to be a sweet love note from my grandfather, Josef, to his sweetheart, Lisi. To discover out how I found a Rosetta Stone to unlock the secrets held within these letters and cards, check out this winner!
Thanks to all the wonderful genealogy bloggers out there who are an inspiration to me to continue sharing my family history. A special thanks to those bloggers who so graciously welcomed me into the fold. I look forward to visiting more of your sites.