There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.
– David Eagleman from Sum: Forty Tales of the Afterlife
I thought I’d do a few top ten lists this final week of 2012. Here are the top ten stories that you clicked on from my Follow Friday listings and other posts:
- Blown Away With DNA from the Legal Genealogist
- uencounterme – A Way to Plot Cluster Genealogy Research from Geneabloggers.com
- Workday Wednesday The Dispatcher from Gail Grunst Genealogy
- 10 Awesome Onenote Tips You Should be Using All the Time from makeusof
- Family Lore and Indian Princesses from Evidence Explained
- Five Tips for Safely Reading and Photographing Tombstones from Karen Miller Bennett
- Brickwall Case of Oscar F Brown from Ancestral Breezes (be sure to read all parts!)
- Tech Tuesday: Using Pinterest for Your Family History Photographs from Tall Tales of a Family
- Wedding Wednesday: Robbing the Cradle from Kathryn Smith Lockhard
- A True Love Story? from A Southern Sleuth
All are worth another read.
Here is what inspired, moved and made me think this past week:
- Vandalism to a National Historic Landmark from Hankering for History
- That age old genealogy question….When is it proven? from Genealogy Certification: My Personal Journal
- The Moment I Knew — Marta’s Story from the Armchair Genealogist
- Two Tips for Budding Professionals from Marians’ Roots & Ramble
- A Century of Wedding Belles — Sepia Saturday & Wedding Wednesday from Family History Fun
- Workday Wednesday — New England Forestry Co from The eLuceydator
- Remembering Phyllis Diller from (Mis)Adventures Of A Genealogist
- 10 Awesome OneNote Tips You Should Be Using All the Time from makeuseof
- The Ethical Genealogist from The Legal Genealogist
- From One Belle to Another from Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast
- Sepia Saturday — Bones from Peter’s Blog
- Honoring Ancestor’s Who Died Too Young: Hugo Kaiser from Gail Grunst Genealogy
So I’ve be blogging for a few months now and it has indeed been a lot of fun. I spent the last couple of days thinking about what kind of posts have gotten some of the best responses.
Posts that have a story associated with them. Can be small snippet of a story of lengthy piece. But it seems those with a genealogy bent to their personality love a good or even passable story.
Posts that talk about how I’ve done it wrong. Confessing one’s genealogical sins seems hard at first, but it seems to have brought out some camaraderie. Let’s face it — none of us are perfect. And we all started as really naive and clueless family historians. Who knew a birth record could be wrong? Who knew that vital records don’t exist for everyone and are not readily available? Who knew those stories about Indian princesses are just stories and not facts? But figuring this out and then learning how to fix our errors? That is one of the joys of genealogy. We never stop learning. I enjoy discussing the learning process as much I enjoy discussing my ancestors.
Posts about the forgotten. This was and still is the main goal of my blog. I don’t want my ancestors, good, bad or ugly to be forgotten. They have made me who I am. And remembering those who have left no one behind, such as my maiden aunts and bachelors uncles, seemed to have struck a real chord with many.
So I think I’m on the right path. It’s OK not to be perfect. Which is good, because that is not in my DNA. And sharing our mistakes maybe can make it easier for others. Or at least we can share in our “can you believe I did that?”
And telling the stories. Making the records come to life. That is the fun and addictive part, isn’t it?
I am a perpetual student because the world is a limitless place. — Elissa Scalise Powell
I had the honor of being in Elissa’s class when I was a student in the Boston University Online Certificate program. She was inspiring then, and in a recent post on APG mailing list, she delivered the above gem. (I couldn’t find this attributed to anyone else, so I assume it is hers.) It was part of a great discussion about education.
When I was a computer science student at the University of Arkansas working on my bachelor’s degree, I remember sitting in an architecture class and thinking, there is absolutely no way I am ever going to know all there is to know about this. It inspired me to go get a Master’s Degree at Purdue.
I had that moment in my BU class where the light went on and I knew I would have to pick and choose what I became truly knowledgeable about in Genealogy.
For me, I want to know all I can about Southern Genealogy, specifically Virginia, and the Carolina’s and the Civil War. That is where my family’s history lies.
Oh, and sourcing!
Some days I feel like I am making progress and some days I am overwhelmed.
But I keep reading and practicing. Because the world is indeed a limitless place.
Teasing the story out of the records is half the battle. Presenting the story so it is interesting, well that is something else.
Each piece of evidence, each record is presented as Exhibit. Each Exhibit has a picture or image and a description that helps the reader understand the image and a bit more about Hyman Victor.
I love its simple yet powerful presentation. It is compelling. And it has the ability to be updated easily. Find a new document? It’s easy to add.
If you are looking for inspiration on how to tell the story of your ancestor’s, look to see what others have done. Inspiration is everywhere.
Census records are great for giving us birth events, names and relationships (stated or presumed) and depending on the year other various event and identity information. But I do believe that every census tells a story, with the questions it begs us to ask.
My grandmother was Jennie Elizabeth Payne and she was born in North Carolina. In 1930, I find her living in Crowder Mountain, North Carolina with her brothers and sisters.1
I think too often we gather the names, the vitals and the relationships and move on. Or maybe we transcribe everything off the record. But what is the story that this document tells us? What are the questions that it is begging us to ask and then answer?
A quick look tells us that particular census is not the basic family unit we expect to see. Where are the parents? There are some fairly young children in this household; Otto B is only 8. Where are his mother and father and why have they left their youngest children to be raised by their oldest.
Floyd R Payne, Jennie’s brother, owns the house. This is not typical for a 20 year old single male in this area. Floyd is listed as a farmer on a General Farm, and his two brothers, Thomas and Robert, are listed as laborers on a Farm, presumably the family farm. None of the sisters are working and Lela and Jennie are in their 20′s. So it would appear that the family is not destitute.
So how did they end up in this situation? Are the parents dead? Is there some other reason for this family setup? It’s not that they were living here in this particular time and place, the story will come from why were they living here in particular time and place and where are the people we expect to be there.
The story begins by asking the right questions.
1. 1930 U.S. census, Gaston County, North Carolina, population schedule, Crowder Mountain Township, p. 133 (stamped), enumeration district(ED) 9, sheet 18A, dwelling 280, family 314, Jennie E Payne; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 May 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1691.