Monday, September 5, 2016

blogs to keep current.

There are many ways to stay current as we study local history and genealogy. I peruse magazines, books, and listservs, with the last the easiest to follow.  Here's a list I put together of what comes to my e-mail box. What do you read?

Genealogy and History blogs to follow: (New England Historic Genealogy Society) and Vita Brevis

Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter

Family Tree University

Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems

O Say Can You See – National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution Blog

Prologue: Pieces of History:

Upfront with NGS - National Genealogical Society Blog:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Another year, another opportunity to explore Genealogy & Local History

It's been a year since I posted about Genealogy & Local History and my course on the topic starts Monday. I'm already thinking about exercises, readings, and research projects to share with my students and colleagues.

The course is always an opportunity for me to hone my skills, learn a new resource or two, and teach  another crop of students how to navigate primary and secondary sources, census records and public records, and government documents. It's a challenge and lots of fun.

To add to the mix this fall, I was approached by a church organization to help they figure out how to navigate an old, many-times-renovated building. I'll be asking my students to help me do background research as I explore the physical building. It's a great opportunity to work on a real project for a real client.

For the first week of class, we'll talk about why people do family research, the basic tools they use, and how they work. Then we'll dig deeper into those tools. With changes to each of the websites, I've rerecorded ALL my lectures for week 1 and am ready to go on Monday. 

So why do people research their families and communities? Well, some don't know their grandparents' names and want to know all about them, where they came from, who they were aside from strangers in photographs. Others want to know more about the 'old country' whether it's on the Atlantic, Pacific, or Gulf Coast, or in Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, or along the Silk Route. What did they eat? What did they wear? Who were their children? Some want to connect to cousins far and wide. 

For myself, I want to know more about my father's family. Both sides are somewhat of a mystery and I want to know the names of great grandparents, where they lived, and what they did for a living. I've discovered some surprises and uncovered some mysteries. 

As we explore family history, we'll find that each person has members of their family who are considered 'black sheep' for some reason. We'll find cousins marrying cousins, and a bigmist or two along the way. These shouldn't be surprises. You might find a slave owner or slave in your past or an indentured servant who traveled to the New World and paid off the cost of the ship and food. Others' might find criminals who were sentenced in England to X years and transport (to the colonies in America or Australia). 
Since America is populated by people from far and wide, from every race, ethnicity, and country across the globe, embrace the differences and cultures, and explore them along with me this fall.

As always, I promise to post to this blog regularly, so we'll see how well I stick to my goals.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Learn about the Civil War in a series of 4 minute National Park Service videos

The Civil War Trust, part of the National Park Service, has recorded a series of four minute videos about battles, battle fields, battle field preservation, and more.

The centenary of the Civil War triggered or encouraged a exploration and preservation of battle fields. Civil War Scholarship increased along with the study of primary sources and landscapes.

The Sesquicentennial  of the Civil War, which is just ending this year, was another turning point in the study of the war and the preservation of materials.

Both the Civil War Trust and the National Park Service have lots of materials about the Civil War, Battles and Skirmishes, and Military Units and Soldiers, and even Places that were affected by the war. Take some time to explore these valuable online resources.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Seeing the Past

Pursuing Local History and Genealogy projects means exploring the past. Researchers examine records, journals, diaries, newspapers, and books to learn what happened in years gone by, to understand how people experienced events, and, most of all, how people lived. What better way to learn about the past than by studying photographs. After all, photographs freeze the past, freeze events so anyone can study a building, person, or event at that moment in time.  

Sarah Weatherwax,  a photography curator at the Library Company of Philadelphia, writes about how early photography was received in 1839 Philadelphia. Her piece appears in the blog "O Say Can You See?" of the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Museums.   

Sarah Weatherwax,. “A Philadelphia Snapshot From When Daguerreotypes Were New” O Say Can You See? Blog (Sept 1, 2015): Pt 1  Pt 2 

If you want to read more about Daguerreotypes, check out the Daguerreian Society  or look at more examples held by the Library of Congress

If you want to learn more about Early Photographic Processes, the Smithsonian is an excellent place to start.
Sarah Kate Gillespie speaks about early photography to the Smithsonian (2011) in 4 short lectures entitled: 'One Thing New Under the Sun: Morse, Draper, and the Cross-Currents of Early American Photography'

Take a look at the articles and watch the lectures, then explore photographs in your collection. How do they document the past? What other items in your archive, museum, or library show a past that is long gone or much modified?

One Thing New Under the Sun: Morse, Draper, and the Cross-Currents of Early American Photography

One Thing New Under the Sun: Morse, Draper, and the Cross-Currents of Early American Photography

Monday, August 31, 2015

Genealogy Blogs

One of the most difficult things about working in Genealogy & Local History is keeping current. I subscribe to a number of blogs and newsletters. Some of the announcements and information overlaps, but I realize it's better to have the overlap than to miss something. 

Below are some websites, blogs and newsletters you can follow. The list is in no particular order or ranking. Of course, there are many others, and I'm not endorsing any of them.

Genealogy Bank
Ancestry Blog Updates  
Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Upfront with NGS (National Genealogical Society) 
New York Genealogy and Biographical Society Blog
Family Tree Magazine Newsletter
Family Search Blog
Fold3 Blog
New England Historic Genealogical Society has a newsletter AND 
American (NEHGS databases and newsletter)

Of course, there are many societies, organizations, and newsletters.
I'd love to hear about others that you think are worth reading each day or week.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Local History from historical texts

For those of you who think genealogy and local history is about mining the records, here's a fascinating publication from 1610 about the plantation in Ulster (Ireland) by the English.
The Great Parchment Book has been conserved and is now digitized and searchable. If your ancestor is from Ireland, you might find their name in this text. Or you could study the history of the community through the manuscript and the story it tells.

While I am more likely to use this piece in my Rare Book Librarianship / History of the Book course, it also pertains to a course on the types of documents historians use to study local history.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mapping swaths of history

I stumbled across this post about Ed McCarthy who is mapping the entire history of Boston. What a job! Can you imagine deciding what belongs on a map? Finding the map and then determining how to document it, connecting event to map? If this was for my class, we'd have to do some serious brainstorming about types of events, types of maps, display, "collection development", access points, indexing, and so much more. Take a look at the article. How would you approach mapping and documenting your community?