It’s not too late! You can register on-site beginning Tuesday, August 20, at 3 p.m. for the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2019 Family History Conference, Washington, DC – August 21-24, 2019 – at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Whether you come one day or all four, EVERY day is packed with presentations by nationally-known experts on genealogical research. You won’t want to miss it! You’ll be sure to learn a lot. Go to FGS 2019 Conference for details.
For the first time in more than two decades, there will be a major genealogy conference in Washington, DC – August 21-24, 2019 – at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. It’s the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2019 Family History Conference. Whether you come one day or all four, EVERY day is packed with presentations by nationally-known experts on genealogical research. You won’t want to miss it! You’ll be sure to learn a lot. Register NOW! at https://fgs.org/annual-conference/.
As citizens of the 21st century, we often expect “precision” in names, dates, places, geographic locations, and many other things. For our ancestors, however, precision in such details was not as important as things like, “How many eggs did the chicken lay today?”
Although we ‘live by the clock’ our ancestors did not, or not so much, and a Norwegian island wants to try to go back to that during their longest days. (See New York Times article here).
But back to the name thing. Today’s blog post by Damian Shiels, “Leaving Off the ‘O'”: Insights into Irish Emigrant Name Changes in 1860s America” gives good food for thought regardless of your ancestors’ nationality.
As always, superior genealogical research requires an understanding of our ancestor’s perspective and worldview. It makes understanding the records a tad easier.
A is for ancestors…. As family historians, we research our ancestors to know more about the past and, more importantly, something about who we ourselves are.
A is for accurate…. As family historians, we should strive to be accurate…. to collect correct information about the correct ancestors (avoid the similar name problem, eh?) and to interpret that information correctly.
A is for authentic…. Accurate information that is properly interpreted leads to an authentic telling of that ancestor’s story. Sure, we will never know our ancestors the way they knew themselves, or as their neighbors knew them, but we can strive to do justice to their memories by striving for authenticity.
If these thoughts seem rather basic, well, yes, they are.
Many things can get in the way of accuracy and authenticity:
- Cherished family legends that are actually mostly legend.
- Assumptions about the past that are mistaken.
- A preferred version of history, even if not grounded on facts.
- A desire to avoid acknowledging historical facts that are ugly and unseemly in the 21st century. (They were probably were ugly and unseemly at the time of the historical events in question, too.)
- Poor research skills.
- Incomplete or unavailable records.
- Any number of other factors.
Some time ago I was part of a conversation about a researcher’s cherished family documents that weren’t quite what they purported to be. I will never know the full story behind the documents. It was a little sad and troubling. It involved accuracy and authenticity being deliberately thrown under the bus. Was the truth “too dull”? Was the family legend (if there was one) too cherished? How many family history researchers prefer fiction to reality?
If you want legends, read mythologies. If you want to know your ancestors, read and study real records pertinent to them and their time and place. You may be pleasantly surprised that “truth” may be just as interesting as fiction.
Finding a great archival record whose significance has not been recognized is one of the things that makes working with archival records a joy. Although the 1863 Gettysburg Address audience photo in this story had never been forgotten, it was clearly under-appreciated until Josephine Cobb made the effort in 1952 to examine it closely and with thoughtfulness. Great archivists have curiosity and a deep understanding of history and their subject specialties. Hurrah, Josephine Cobb, and may there continue to be more like you.
Follow the link below to read the full story!
March is Women’s History Month! Visit National Archives News to see how we’re celebrating. Today’s post comes from Michael Hancock in the National Archives History Office. According to the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. But in the case of Josephine Cobb and her 1952 discovery in a Civil War–era photograph, it’s worth…
The destruction of records by fire and other disasters ranks among the genealogist’s worst enemies. These are some of the most famous ones, but there were undoubtedly many others:
- The nitrate film vault fire of 1978
- The National Personnel Records Center Fire of 1973
- The Commerce Department Fire of 1921
- The New York Capitol Fire of 1911
- The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906
- The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the nearby Peshtigo Fire of Wisconsin and Michigan of 1871
- Records lost in the South during the Civil War
- Courthouse fires too numerous to mention
- The Patent Office Fire of 1836
- The burning of Washington, DC, on August 24, 1814
- The War Department Fire of 1800; fortunately, the lost records are being reconstructed from other sources
- Personal papers and photographs lost by families due to house fires, floods, etc.
Sometimes, you have to think that we are lucky that records have survived at all.
On Thursday, August 23, 2018, at 1 p.m. (Eastern), an historian at the USCIS will present a very useful webinar, particularly for those with ancestors who arrived in the first have of the 20th century.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has transferred over a million Alien Files (A-Files) to National Archives custody in Kansas City, Missouri, and San Francisco, California. Researchers can use the National Archives catalog and well-known genealogy research sites to search for files.
Are all the indices the same? What information is included in each index? This webinar will discuss the index data and how to search various indices to find an A-File at the National Archives. We will also discuss the role of the index in transferring A-Files to the Archives.
*This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join it live.*
How to Attend:
1. Visit the USCIS History and Genealogy webpage.
2. Click “Guide to I&N History: Thursday, August 23.”
3. Click “Attend Session” just before the webinar start time at 1 p.m. (Eastern). If you’ve not attended a previous USCIS webinar online, it would be a good idea to hit “attend session” 10 minutes early to make sure you have the right software, etc.