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.