Saturday, January 26, 2008

Genealogy and History Thoughts - Column Eleven

Some days I wish I had old letters that my ancestors wrote, but I'm not fortunate enough. I do have two old letters, but they are from cousins of my ancestors and not my direct ancestors. One letter I am unsure of who wrote the letter and to whom the letter was addressed. All I know is that the letter was in some papers of my great-grandmother's cousin. The second letter is again from the same branch, except this time, it was written by my great-grandmother's aunt to her son (my great-grandmother's cousin).

So, why am I writing this? Well, old letters are nice to have as they can shed light upon ancestors in way that other records cannot do. What I mean is that one can get a sense of what an ancestor's personality was like from reading the letter they wrote. Also, you would probably learn about the ancestor's friends and hometown. You would get a much better sense of what a person was going through. In short, a letter is a real glimpse into history. It is one of those rare times that history can come to life for a person. Newspapers articles can do that as well, but I think letters are more effective at making history sink in a person's mind. (You may or may not have remembered but I did write about the effect some old newspaper articles had on me in a previous column.)

Of course, it would be nice, but again, I know nothing of any other old family letters. I would have loved to be able to read letters from the nineteenth century, but as far as I know, any possible letters did not either survive. Or the letters never existed as I know my Civil War ancestor did not know how to write, nor his parents. I am not sure if his son even knew, although it appears that two of his children did learn to read and write. Maybe I just haven't found any of those letters, or maybe one of my cousins has some old letters. I have not yet checked.

So, how many of you have found or have letters written by your ancestors? How did you find them?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reminder About the Carnival of Central and Eastern Genealogy

I'll be the first to admit it; the deadline for this carnival came up faster than I expected. Again, the topic for this carnival is on stories. I will still accept entries through tomorrow and up to noon on the 27th. I have received a few entries, but the majority do not appear to be on the topic.

What's Being Indexed by FamilySearch Indexing?

I happen to be a volunteer indexer for FamilySearch Indexing, and I thought I would just mention some of the records being indexed at the moment. A couple of records are:
  • Indexes of the Irish BMD
  • 1850 U. S. Federal Census

Of course there are other records being being indexed but the moment, these are two projects that have caught my attention. If you want to find out more information, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Genealogy Societies and Membership ...

Over the past few days, several bloggers posted on the issue of genealogical societies and membership. Jasia, Terry and Denise were just a few of the bloggers who posted on the issue. I couldn't help but add my thoughts to this debate.

I realize that one of the issues is that membership is declining in genealogy societies, but I would like to bring up briefly why members of my generation are not members. I am not a member of a genealogical society, nor have I ever been a member. I haven't been a member because I have been a student, even when I began doing genealogy research in high school. Back then, I did not consider joining because I would not have been able to afford the dues, nor would I have had the time to go as I was busy with school. Even though I am now in college, I still do not give much thought to joining a society as I am busy with school. My first priority is to getting my school work done. Joining a society is not very high on my priority list. Will that ever change? Maybe, but that won't be until after I've graduated and have a job.

Do college students join anything? Sure. Many students join clubs on the college's campus. Of course, I do not know of how many people my age are into genealogy. If they have not joined any genealogical societies, it is probably because of school and work. A college student who goes to school full-time and works, usually does not have much more time than to be involved in a college club outside of school and work. Also, if a college student is working to pay for their education, he or she probably is not going to be able to afford the dues of a genealogy society as a college education is quite expensive. (Of course, I also do not know how much genealogy societies charge in the way of dues.)

Plus, this is a time in a person's life when people are dating, getting engaged or getting married. I don't believe that many of the people my age who are into genealogy (if there are many) would be interested in joining a society as this is a time in which a person's life is rapidly changing. This is the time of a person's life when he or she is just starting to live on his or her own. Of course, this probably also explains why many people in my age group do not express an interest in genealogy. As the lives of people my age are undergoing changes, my peers are more likely to focus on the present and not think about their family's history. If you asked many of my peers about genealogy, they would probably not know what it is or not care. I hesitate to put down not caring, although that is probably true in most cases. When you are just starting to gain Independence, you probably are not going to focus on the past or on your family as you just starting out on your own. Also, some people of my age are not interested in genealogy as a result of the behavior of other family members. For most of my peers, this is a time in a person's life when one is more interested in their individuality than the identity of their family.

So, what do you think? For those of into genealogy who are in college, am I right or am I wrong? As always, you can leave a comment with your opinion.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Poll Results

The poll is now closed, and the results are in. The question for this poll was, "What topics would you like to see covered in the Genealogy and History Thoughts columns?" Six people voted, and the results are:
  • Personal research experiences - 1 vote
  • contemporary genealogy issues - 4 votes
  • Information on historical events - 0 votes
  • Information on historical places or landmarks - 1 vote
  • Information on the history of a location - 0 votes

To those that voted, thank you for participating. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh The Weather ...

For the past few days, it has snowed almost continuously, and it is still snowing outside. (At least that has been true for the area of West Michigan where I am at.) I'm guessing that there is at least four inches or more out on the ground. Sometimes I wonder if my ancestors experienced winters in Michigan similar to the winters I have experienced, or if their winters were worse. Someday, I'll get around to looking that up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More History Blogs Added!

Today I have added two more history blogs to the list. The blogs added are:
  • Detour Through History
  • Local History Blog - Ann Arbor District Library (Note: I learned about this blog from Jasia's post.)

You can find these and other blogs on the lower left side of the page below the genealogy blogs. Any suggestions for other genealogy and history blogs are welcome.

About Scotland's People ...

Earlier today, I noticed that Dear Myrtle had posted on the site of Scotland's People. Even though this article was on the site joining with another U. K. genealogy site, I thought that I would post an article about the site.

Scotland's People is a pay-per-view site to view the vital records and census records of Scotland up to the early 1900s. Usually one pays for a price for a number of credits for a period of a time. I have never tried the site, although I have read the about information on the website. Again, I did not mention this site in my previous post because one has to pay for credits to view the information. The purpose of my previous post was to mention free sites.

I have not tried this site as I haven't had the opportunity to do so. Also, I do not know how beneficial this site would be to me as my research has indicated that my ancestors only lived in Scotland for about a generation. Therefore, I don't know if this site is any benefit to me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More History Blogs Added!

Today I have added a couple more history blogs to the list. The blogs added are:
  • Bay City, Michigan History
  • Michigan Civil War Blog

I learned about these two blogs from Jasia's post. You can find these and other history blogs on the lower left side of the page below the genealogy blogs. Any suggestions for other history or genealogy blogs are welcome.