Today is the day — Business Launch!

As some of you might already know, over the last month I’ve been working incredibly hard to build my genealogy business up to something that can get clients and produce work that both they and I are happy with.  All this hard work has finally paid off and I am proud to announce the grand opening of Life Stories Transcription Services.

Life Stories Transcription Services
Logo by Timber Cove Design

Life Stories is a genealogical and family historian website where I help you transcribe Grandma’s journals or listen to Aunt Susie talk about her time as a nurse during World War 2. With all of this my goal is to preserve the memories of your family and keep them in a format that you can share with all. With that news, you are the ones who get something special this month.

Feb 2017 Coupon

That’s right! You get 15% off of any services at Life Stories Transcription if you book your service before the end of the month. Be sure to share this with family and friends — you never know who will need it! Be sure to follow Life Stories on Facebook here and take a look at our website.


Tombstone Tuesday: Military (US) Edition

Tombstone Tuesday has quickly become my favorite genealogy prompt from the Geneablogger with Thomas MacAntee. Last week it was the first edition. I’m a sucker for cemeteries (I have well over 500+ photos of gravestones on my hard drive right now). Each week of Tombstone TuesdayI’m going to feature different stories, ideas or facts about cemeteries, tombstones and anything related to the field of death and burial.

Evergreen Washelli Columbarium

Military tombstones and graves are quite unique among gravestones in general. They typically have a uniform look that is the same in almost any cemetery that you will visit. There are three types of headstones and markers available — the upright headstones, the markers, and the medallions.

John Peter Watson

While I did share the above picture in the last Tombstone Tuesday, I just love the visual representation of the winter ice on this picture. This was John Peter Watson,  born in 1895 in Minnesota and died at the age of forty-one in Bellingham, Washington.  This is an example of an upright marble headstone. These measurements are uniform 42-inches long, 13-inches wide and 4-inches thick. The stones are about 230 pounds or 104 kilograms (according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs) There may be variations in the stone color, but in general, all the stones are going to look the same.

These following gravestones are all of the upright marble headstones:

Dr. William Huey
Dr. William Huey
Thomothy Paul Walton
Thomothy Paul Walton
William Loyd Hubka
William Loyd Hubka

The next type of military marker you are going to find is the flat-type marker. These have become more common over the years as marble has fallen out of style. These markers are bronze and are 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, with 3/4 raise and weigh about 18 pounds or 8 kilograms. These are most commonly seen in cemeteries since the late 60’s and 70’s.


Olaf G. Overrein
Olaf G. Iverrein, flat marker

Because the markers are bronze, they can oxide and turn bright teal and aquamarine like Max M. Jenkins below.

Max M. Jenkins

The last kind of gravestone or marker for members of the military is a medallion. You’ll rarely see these on individual gravestones. They are typically located near a selection of military gravestones like this one in Bayview Cemetery.

United States Merchant Marine

What other military markers have you seen? Thank you to Life After Death Photography for lending their photos to this post. Be sure to follow us on Facebook here to keep up with the latest blog posts.

Genealogy in the Works: What it Means to be a Genealogist

Genealogy. When you hear it most often images of older folks or Mormons come to mind, but put that aside for a moment. Genealogy is so much more than dates and places. It is people, it is lives, it is stories that we shouldn’t forget.

In this series, Genealogy in the Works we will be interviewing genealogist of every background. This includes gay and queer genealogists. What it means for the family tree when you are a transgender individual or how to approach issues of sensitivity like slavery and indigenous tribes. All of this comes together to create an intersectional  view of genealogy and family history.

This series really wouldn’t make sense without explaining who I am first, so here goes:

Becks Campbell
Becks Campbell at one of her favorite local restaurants, 2016

Who are you?

I’m Becks Campbell. I run The Hipster Historian blog and am the sole owner of Life Stories Transcription Services.  I’ve been an amateur genealogist for most of my life and in the last year have decided to go into my favorite hobby professionally.  I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 12 years and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Becks Campbell and Spouse
Becks Campbell and her Husband, 2016


Why genealogy?

My mother is a professional genealogist and has been for well over twenty years. As a child growing up in the Mormon Church family ties and genealogy was emphasized heavily to me and after I left the church the passion for genealogy still stuck around. I’m completely obsessed with the stories of the past and who we were and who we will become.

Donna Mae Blocher
Becks late paternal grandmother, Donna Mae Blocher

What does it mean to be a genealogist?

Loaded question. Genealogy, by definition, is the study and research of ancestral lines. But in reality, it is so much more than that. We as genealogists, are tasked with finding long-lost loved ones, records that may not exist and people that don’t want to be found. We pour through years of directories and censuses, and in some cases, it can be quite sobering what you’ve found.

In my narrative writing project Forgotten Women of History I’ve found stories of domestic abuse, child abandonment, and murder — to name a few. We need to be aware that when we are researching a family line either for ourselves, for friends or for clients that there needs to be sensitivity and ethics involved.

What is your favorite genealogy blog to follow?

Right now there are so many amazing blogs to follow but I would highly suggest checking out Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee. It is the biggest source of networking and genealogy related blogs on the web right now.

What is your current field of study or research?

After several friends with Italian heritage asked me to research their history, I got hooked. I’m currently researching the Sorrentino’s, Serago’s, Pescatore’s and Bugni’s. In addition because most of my work has been coming from that area I am slowly (but surely!) learning Italian. It is a big task, but I’m ready for it.

Where else can we find you?

I’m all over the web, but my favorite places to hang out are here at The Hipster Historian, working on transcriptions at my business Life Stories Transcription Services and my narrative writing project, Forgotten Women of History.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check by next week for our next Genealogy in the Works interview!







Tombstone Tuesday: First Edition

I was so excited to see the Tombstone Tuesday writing prompt from GeneaBloggers and have decided to make it a permanent feature here at The Hipster Historian. Why? I love cemeteries. I visit one at least once a week and try to take as many pictures as I can both for photography practice (see here) and to help upload to one of the biggest gravestone photo repositories on the web — Find A Grave.

Today’s post will be about the different types of tombstones I’ve seen in my travels and trips to the cemeteries I’ve been too. Most of these photos come from my local cemetery, Bayview with the exception of the last photo taken at Mills and Mills Memorial Park in Tumwater, Washington.

John Peter Watson

John Peter Watson

Henry Roeder

Henry Roeder

Bayview Cemetery

Bayview Cemetery 2

What is your favorite cemetery or type of tombstone. Be sure to let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page at The Hipster Historian.

The Quick-And-Dirty on How To Take an AncestryDNA test

Note: This post is not endorsed nor paid for by, but is for the use of genealogists and those interested around the world to keep up-to-date on the newest in the field. 16176548_10158246717285601_946598684_n

Ever since my first DNA test taken years ago, I’ve been fascinated by what historical geneticists could tell me about my past. It always struck me that family members can bend the truth, written records can lie and the origins of an individual can be obfuscated.  But, beyond all of that, I knew that science of DNA couldn’t lie.



Science and the study of genetics give us the plain and dirty facts of where we came from without the lens of humanity attached  — we get to do that later.  But we can discuss that later. Today’s post is all about how to take Ancestry’s DNA test.

Taking a test that can tell you your heritage can seem a little daunting, and even though I wasn’t the one doing it today, I was still nervous. But, Ancestry makes it really easy and the directions are straightforward for anyone looking to find our their past.


STEP 1: This step really should be that you have purchased a kit from Ancestry here, but I’m going to assume you’ve already done it. Surprise! It arrived in your mailbox and it looks like this.

STEP 2:  Make sure before you start spitting to enter your activation code (found on the plastic vial underneath the barcode) into Ancestry’s website here. This will help you connect your results of the DNA test to your family tree online at a later point.

STEP 3: This is the second most important step, make sure to lay out AT LEAST 30 MINUTES to do this test.  Make sure you have not smoked, drank or eaten in the last 30 minutes. In order to not compromise the test, you will need to follow these directions to the letter. It helps if you set a timer on your phone like I did below.16215808_10158246715705601_1506124223_n


STEP 3: Once you get to the point where you are ready, get set to spit! And I mean spit. You will need to fill up the vial to the wavy line. This looks like a lot, but it reality it is only half the vial. Once you’ve reached the wavy line without too many bubbles it is time to cap it.

STEP 4:  Flip the cap over, make sure it is good and tight, you don’t want any of your spit coming on out (gross, I know!). Once the cap (with the blue liquid) is on tightly, hold firmly and shake for 5 counts. If you are confused, don’t worry, Ancestry has also put out a video just for you!

STEP 5: You are done! Put it inside the inside packaging (the black baggie) and seal it, then insert into the pre-printed box (you don’t’ even need to put stamps on it) and pop it in the mailbox. You are done!


Within 6-8 weeks you’ll have your results

When did you take your last DNA tests? Leave a COMMENT below! Follow the Hipster Historian on Facebook.


Records Rave: New Records @ Ancestry as of January 17, 2017

Note: This post is not endorsed nor paid for by, but is for the use of genealogists around the world to keep up-to-date on the newest records being added the database. I create these images for the use of other genealogists.

I love finding out that new records are available via and because of that, I’ve created the Records Rave posts in which I highlight the new (but not updated) records to Ancestry. Take a look below and let me know if I missed any!

New Record Database - Jan. 10, 2017

Victoria, Austraila, Wills and Probate Records (1841 – 2009)
Antwerp, Belgium, Civil Registration (1796 – 1906)
Brabant, Belgium, Civil Registration (1582 – 1914)
East Flanders, Belgium, Civil Registration (1541 – 1912)
Liège, Belgium, Civil Registration (1676 – 1700) + (1798 – 1901)
Namur, Belgium, Civil Registration (1800 – 1912)
London, England, Gamekeepers’ Licences (1727-1839) *
London, England, Stock Exchange Membership Applications (1802 – 1924)
London, England, TS Exmouth Training Ship Records (1876 – 1918)
South Africa, Occupational Index (1864 – 1918)

*Not Listed in Photo Above

Which set of records are you most interested or curious about? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to keep track of what new records come out by following us at  The Hipster Historian here.

When A Family Member Says “No” – 3 Things To Do When You Can’t Get The Information

Family history and genealogy can be a tricky kind of project to work on — especially when living family members either don’t know information about the particular topic you are researching, or in this case they flat out say no. In this post, we will discuss three different responses you can give to an individual if this type of situation comes up.

Quote of the Day

This quote really says it for me. We all carry inside us those ancestors who came before us — and in some situations, that can be things like family secrets, divorce, and abuse. As genealogists we need to stand at the top of fields and respect the living and the dead. Here are a few ideas to help you get through those sticky situations.

  1.  STOP! Yep, you read correctly. In order for our profession as genealogists and the field of family history to be taken seriously and respected, we need to respect our clients and those whose histories we are passionately digging into. We all come from different backgrounds and we need to empathize with those who have had difficult ones that they do not wish to dig further into at this time.

    Just as the golden rule goes, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” we need to respect that some people’s past shouldn’t be dug into while they are still living. The most we could do for them is let them live in peace without disturbing the past. Now, I don’t suggest this for every instance, but this is the #1 rule we need to stick to when digging into genealogy.

  2. EXPLAIN. Because genealogical  + religious records have not always been used for good, we need to explain our motives to our clients and their families in a clear and mature manner. Make it very clear you are NOT using their families information for religious rites (and if you are, make sure that CONSENT is giving in writing) or storing and stealing data.
  3.  BE POSITIVE. Noted genealogist Luana Darby  of Lineages by Luana says,

    “Be positive and take the concerns of those objecting to heart. Most likely they fear finding out a part of their ancestry. Assure them you will take it step by step letting them know what you are doing. Peace in the family goes a long way to finding answers.

    Calmly tell them that there is much in the public record already and you want to do it properly before someone else publishes it without thinking or knowing of the family concerns. If they refuse to help, still try and keep them in the loop somehow, documenting each step of the way.”

Aren’t we all striving to be as ethical as possible? Let’s stand together on this and remind ourselves with each and every client + family that these are real concerns and issues.

P.S. Going over the Code of Ethics at the Association of Professional Genealogists (APA) is always a great refresher for the beginner, intermediate and seasoned researchers.






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How’d They Find Me?

In the genealogy, world privacy should be one of our utmost concerns, especially that of our living family and selves. Recently, a post has been circulating the genealogical social media circles about a particular website. by the name of FamilyTreeNow.

Keep Information

The text of the message reads:

“I’m sharing this because the amount of information available to anyone through a basic search on FamilytreeNow is scary. I checked it out for myself and my family, and it was true. This article gives information on how to opt-out of having your information available.”

This particular genealogical website has been catching flak by mining other public websites for information not only about deceased individuals, but those still living. In fact, when I went to check on my name, it came up with my married and maiden name and address’s I’ve resided in.

This was a huge RED flag for me so I decided to do a little more digging. The company currently sits at a C+ on the Better Business Bureau’s website with 15 registered complaints against the company. This business has only been open for three short years and the complaints range mostly along the lines of the social media post being shared in genealogical circles.

What can we do?

FIRST, of all register your complaints with the Better Business Bureau. The more we can let business accreditation websites know of our issues, the more this issue can be brought to light, the more we can discuss as genealogists what privacy means.

SECOND. Use the websites opt-out features and to remove your information for no charge. Remember, anytime you use a website to check their terms and conditions, as many of them include clauses that will allow them to release public information for companies to mine. This is a great article by Ken Gagne, former editor of ComputerWorld, that explains how to get your information off of these aggregator type websites. If you are looking for directions specifically for FamilyTreeNow, click here for and article by Christine Otten.

THIRD.  Be more aware of these issues as you move forward in your genealogical research. Be sure to be respectful of the privacy of living individuals as you more forward.




Forgotten Women of History

I’m a sucker for history, especially history that focuses on women. Generally speaking, women have not had it easy for most, if not all of our written and recorded history. I’ve always wondered about the stories of the women behind the Roman generals or the grandmother of famous painters like Vincent Van Gogh. Who were they and what made them tick. And, this is why I’ve created the historical narrative writing project called: Forgotten Women of History.

Forgotten Women of History

Forgotten Women of History or FWOH for short is a blog dedicated to these women. Whether it is your grandmother who became the first female sheriff in rural Arkansas like Thelma Jewel Sanders Harber or Lulu Marie Sayer, your great aunt who abandoned her child in the forest on commands from her new husband, FWOH is telling all the stories of these women.

One the favorite stories I’ve come across while researching genealogy has been that of Philena Mae Fairbanks who was generally considered a beautiful young woman at the turn of the 20th century (see picture below). So much so, that her new husband became jealous of her beauty and locked her in their home while he was away on business trips. As the years progressed and they had more children (eight to be exact), her husband became more and more verbally  and emotionally violent. Philena knew what might happen next and told her husband “If you ever hit me, I will get a divorce.”

Philena Mae Fairbanks

This sorry excuse for a man didn’t listen and gave Philena a black eye after being angry about something or another. Philena went straight to the judge and demanded an immediate divorce from her abuser, which was granted. The story goes on to say that she told one of her daughters that by the time she died she would have a diamond ring for every finger on her left hand for all the travails she had to endure in her life. And wouldn’t you know it, by the time she passed away she had four big diamond rings she had purchased herself.

Forgotten Women of History Banner

Since launching this project late last fall, I’ve been able to write about the lives of several women, but I don’t want to stop there. Here is where you come in. I want to write about your grandmother who entered STEM fields in the early 1900’s or your great-great-great aunt who traveled around the world in search for a better life.

Since launching this project late last fall, I’ve been able to write about the lives of several women, but I don’t want to stop there. Here is where you come in. I want to write about your grandmother who entered STEM fields in the early 1900’s or your great-great-great aunt who traveled around the world in search for a better life.

If you are interested in me telling your families stories, send an email to  thehipsterhistorian (at) gmail (dot) com


  1. Only females and female identified individuals will be considered for FWOH.
  2.  This individual must no longer be living. This is important as we do not want to invade the privacy of any living individuals without consent.
  3.  Stories need to be kept to around 1800 words (at max). The more citations and information you can provide, the easier the editing process will be.
  4. The more pictures and records you have available, the better.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Tumblr!


Cemetery Walks

Earlier this week I was invited to be part of a walking tour through one of the oldest cemeteries in Whatcom County, Bayview. It was founded in 1887 in the town of Whatcom and the first burials took place in 1888. During this tour, we were treated to the history of the monuments of the founding families of our area, like the Eldridges, Roeders and Bloedels.
Cemeteries have always been a super peaceful place for me to take a walk, not something scary or spooky like lives in legends or an episode of Buffy. My mother is a professional genealogist (who you can find here) and taught me and my siblings a great respect for cemeteries and the dead from a  young age.
John Raynolds 1866-1897, Congregation Beth Israel
Henry Roeder, 1824-1902
Henry Roeder, 1824-1902
The tombstones speak to some people and tell stories of others. There are hundreds of people buried in this particular cemetery and thousands more buried around the county. I wonder what their stories are telling us.