Saturday, October 6, 2007

Genealogy and History Thoughts - Column Three

Has anyone ever had an experience where history became something more than just a bunch of dry facts or something that happened to people in the past? What I mean when I say, "where history became something more," I mean, has anyone had an experience where history came alive and felt real for a moment or at least did not feel as distant as at other times?

During this past summer, I was browsing through an old newspaper from an ancestral county, when I came across a newspaper article on the Missouri Compromise. As I read the column, history suddenly came alive for me. It wasn't just a feeling where I thought, "Hey, I learned this in school," but it was also a sense of a close connection. It actually felt as though it had meaning for me. (I realize this sounds weird, but I can't explain this any better.)

After I stopped browsing the newspaper, I started to wonder if history could be made more interesting to people not interested in history. Would many more children find history more interesting if their teachers brought in some original documents or had them do their family history as a project? From my understanding, many students find history boring and I think part of the reason is as a result of how history is taught. Would a change in teaching style or presentation style make history more interesting? I'm not sure, but I am worried by the failure of many Americans to remember their country's history.

What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Just Wanted To Say Thank You ...

I just want to say thank you to Craig Manson, Jasia and Miriam for their kind comments that they left earlier today on my "Added a new post." I also want to say thank you to anyone who may leave any comments as well.

Update, 7 October: Miriam posted a congratulations post to me on Friday. You can view it here. Thank you Miriam.

Added A New Poll

After the results from the last poll indicated that most of the respondents' ancestors came from Europe, I decided to add a new poll. The question for this poll is: What Area of Europe Did Your Ancestors Come From? The choices are:
  • Western
  • Central
  • Eastern/Russia
  • Southern

You can choose more than one category.

I chose to divide Europe into four sections to keep the poll categories simple. I do plan on having polls on this blogs in the future that go more in detail as to which countries, but for the moment, I just want to keep it simple.

On a side note: This post happens to be my 100th post, and I have started posting on this blog since mid-March of this year. Can you imagine that?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

More Genealogy Blogs Posted

Several more genealogy blogs have been added today. The blogs added today are:
  • Allan Scahill's The Scahill Pages
  • Karen Burney's Louisiana Lineage Legacies
  • Paula Stuart-Warren's Paula's Genealogical Eclectica
  • Peter Walker's Hollyer One-Name Study Blog
  • The Mobile Genealogist

I learned about The Mobil Genealogist first from a post by Jasia, and I first learned about Karen Burney's Louisiana Lineage Legacies from a post by Craig Manson. You can find these blogs and others on the lower left hand of this page. Any suggestions for other genealogy or history blogs are welcome.

Carnival of Genealogy Posted!

The Carnival of Genealogy has been posted on Jasia's Creative Gene. The next topic has to do with Halloween. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Five Questions Challenge - School Memories

Juliana Smith over at Ancestry's blog, has posed a five question challange about school memories. I know Randy Seaver and Becky Wiseman have already posted their own answers to this challenge, but I decided to join this challenge, even though my public education school days are not that distant. At least, I don't think this question applies to college ...

1. What was your favorite subject in school?

My favorite subjects were German, history (not suprising, as that's my major), creative writing, anatomy and physiology, world religions and geography.

2. What extra-cirricular activities did you participate in?

In middle school, I participated in the school newspaper and student government. In high school, I participated in several clubs:

Freshman year: I did not participate in any clubs.

Sophomore year: I was in the Mock Trial Club, and I was in a literary club that put on a couple of skits for an open house.

Junior year (different high school): I was on the varsity quiz bowl team and I was on the make-up crew for my high school's theatre company/club.

Senior year: I was the captain of the quiz bowl team and I was again a member on the make-up crew for the school's theatre company. I was also a member of NHS.

3. Did I go on field trips, and if so, what was my most memorable trip?

I went on many field trips when I was in school. I went to places such as the Detroit Institute of Arts (or DIA as it is also known), the Detroit Science Center, Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum, the Jiffy plant in Chelsea, a YMCA camp in the sixth grade, and many more places that I have memories of but don't remember the names of the places. Again, I went on many field trips, several of them to the same places, that I don't believe there is one that sticks out in my mind.

4. What teacher influenced me the most?

I'm not sure I can pinpoint any specific teacher as having an influence over me, but I have had many memorable teachers. A few of my most memorable teachers are: my high school history and English teachers, my German teacher, my eighth-grade teacher and my world religions teacher. Many of those teachers, though, are now retired. I have also had teachers that I don't want to remember, but I don't want to write about them.

5. Did I buy lunch at school or did I bring my lunch from home?

I mainly brought lunch from home. The few times that I did buy lunch primarily occurred when I was in elementary and middle school. Most of the time, the food tasted terrible and wasn't very healthy, and I preferred to bring my lunch from home because the food tasted so bad.

As you can see, I still have many memories of my school days, some bad and some good. Of course, what I have posted here is only a slight fraction of what I do remember.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Genealogy and History Thoughts - Column Two

I've just started an internship at an archive and as a result, I finally have a better understanding and appreciation for why other genealogists write about being specific when it comes to sending a query to an archive or library. (No, this has nothing to do with reading a request written by a researcher; the amount and different types of records an archive may keep is what has made those lessons sink in.)

Since many archive keep thousands upon thousands of pages of documents, just mailing a request with a name would be difficult to research if a person does not give a date range. Unless the person who are researching was famous in the city or area, chances are, that any general request for information would be too time consuming. And more than likely, an archivist would not respond with information but a suggestion to come do your own research at the archive precisely for the reason that the archive staff does not have the time to do the research. (It is also possible that the only staff member is the archivist and the rest of the people who work there are volunteers.)

Archivists generally spend their time preserving, organizing and filling documents and other historical artifacts, and thus, they don't usually have the time to extensive research. In addition, the archive probably only has a couple of people working on the staff. If anything, they will be spending their time trying to organize artifacts so that they'll be easier to retrieve when someone comes in to do research. That information will also more than likely not be online because it is just for internal use and because the archive either doesn't have the staff, funding or technological know-how to put information online. And this lack of time, staff and money is precisely why I don't believe all records will be digitized and put online. More than likely, the information that has been put online has been the result of volunteers doing the work, and this work has probably taken those volunteers many years.

I don't mean to lecture, and this wasn't intended to be a lecture. I think, though, that many times, we as genealogists forget or don't know about the amount of work and effort that goes into preserving records so that they are available to be viewed in the future. I know I didn't realize the amount of work that went into archiving until I began my internship.

If you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave a comment.

Poll Results

The poll has officially closed, and now I'll bring you the results. The poll's question was "Where are your ancestors from?" A person could chose from any of the five categories offered and could vote more than once. Ten people voted, and the results are:
  • Europe - 10 votes
  • Asia - 0 votes
  • Africa - 0 votes
  • North or South America - 2 votes
  • Australia - 0 votes

To those who voted, thank you for voting.