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Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for Time Machine - 2017 A to Z Challenge




Time Machine – a family historian’s fantasy.  We read history, old newspapers, and we pore over
maps. All these give us hints about our ancestors’ lives. We know what kinds of clothes they wore, what their options were for transportation, and for home furnishings. We can read about the important issues of the day.  But we can’t know how they coped on a day to day basis.


What were their personalities? How did they entertain themselves? What were the family dynamics?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to observe their day-to-day lives! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

S is for Substitute - 2017 A to Z Challenge


  
My most recent blog posts have been substitutes for “real” posts. The A to Z Challenge has been an opportunity to post to my blog at a time when I really have nothing much to say.

I’ve been in waiting mode – waiting for FHL films to arrive so that I can continue my current project.  I’m not good at waiting.  Most people would use this time to work on getting things organized – and that was my intent. 

But instead, I focused on coming up with a post for each letter.  Some of these substitutes have been better than others, but they keep me occupied while I am waiting.

Still waiting.


Friday, April 21, 2017

R is for Religious Records - 2017 A to Z Challenge




For certain periods, religious records are almost all we have to trace our ancestry.


In the US, some states did not begin keeping vital records until the early 20th century. Counties or municipalities may have kept vital records before that, but there was no consistency.  There were census records after 1790.  There were tax rolls, court records, land and deed records but they did not necessarily yield the information we search for.

The situation was similar in many European countries. Where my ancestors resided in Prussian Poland, civil records of births, marriages, and deaths began only in 1874. 

But houses of worship often kept very complete records.  There were membership rolls and tithing records.  And there were (and still are) sacramental records that include specific details.  Marriage records, for example, may include not only the names of the bride’s and groom’s parents, but the town in which they lived.  They are a wonderful resource.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q is for Questions - A to Z Challenge


Questions are both the bane and the joy of genealogy research.


Pursuing a question and finally finding an answer is a joyful experience. New information about our family is precious and wonderful. But…. For every answer, we also find more questions.  They never stop!  Few answers are definitive. And even those that seem definitive will generally lead to more questions. 

Truth is, it’s the questions that fuel our family history ventures and keep us going. Bring on the questions!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

P is for Poland - A to Z Challenge



Poland is my ancestral homeland.  All 4 of my grandparents were born there.

I’ve read multiple histories, historical novels, and studied maps and historical atlases to try to get a comprehensive sense of my ancestors’ lives.  All of this has given me an intense pride in my heritage.

Not that my ancestors were at all instrumental in shaping that history.  They were peasants – the people most affected by oppressive rules.  They survived.

Poland and her people have persisted in their steadfast faith in their nation and their destiny.

Wikipedia has a good overview of Poland and her history.







Tuesday, April 18, 2017

O is for Organized - A to Z Challenge




I am not.  Organized. 


Actually, I am multi-organized.  I have manila folders from the early days when I had Broderbund’s Family Tree Maker on my computer and everything else on paper.  I have notebooks where I recorded my findings (more or less) – in notes so cryptic that I can barely decipher them.

As technology improved I came up with methods to preserve records.  I have several methods devised at different times but hardly ever retrofitted older methods to the new ones.

I have folders, binders, CDs, flash drives, hard drives…. 

Problem is, synchronizing all this comes under the heading of one of my earlier posts: Grunt Work.


I need a file clerk!




Monday, April 17, 2017

N is for Newspapers - 2017 A to Z Challenge


Old newspapers give us a glimpse into the everyday lives of our ancestors.  Not to mention that it’s a lot of fun to browse through them.

In years past, newspapers printed the same kinds of news that we find in today’s papers. The volume of information was, as today, dependent on the location and size of the paper’s circulation base.  They covered local, national and international politics, business, events, and sports. There were legal notices and accounts of court proceedings.




Social events were described in flowery language.


There were commercial ads and classified ads.



There were human interest articles and stories.



What were the local issues of the day?  What was happening that affected your ancestors?  Were streets being paved?  Street car tracks being laid? Land being annexed to the city?  What kinds of entertainment were available?




History books tell of significant events, but newspapers tell us about everyday life.

Here are some online sources for historic newspapers

This is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for  the Humanities.

Newspapers.com – Subscription

Genealogy Bank - Subscription