Friday, December 11, 2009

Give the gift of family history

Gifts with a genealogy theme are not for genealogists only, but may also be given to engage others in their family history. An article on, "Give the gift of family history," offers some great ideas. Another article,  from the Niagra Falls Review, "Think outside the gift box," suggests a couple more ideas, although you might want to think carefully before giving DNA test kit to make sure it would be a welcome gift. But the Photo Opoly board game sounds fun.

Traditions across cultures

An article in the Detroit News, "Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa: A time for joy, traditions and reflection," highlights traditions across cultures, reminding us that even though our faiths and practices may differ, this "season of celebration" is about love and family and shared tradition. It's is good to recognize, appreciate, and share with our children the traditions from other cultures,  bringing us closer together as a people and making the holiday season even more meaningful.

Songs of Yesterday: How Our Ancestors Sang the Holidays, Part 2

The holiday season is a time of joy. In times of war, on the battlefield and for those at home, the holiday season takes on even greater meaning. In her article, "Songs of Yesterday: How Our Ancestors Sang the Holidays, Part 2," Jean Hibben reflects on holiday songs born of wartime. With emphasis on the song, "Christmas Bells," better known as "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," written during the Civil War by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the author recalls and performs the song, including the more somber verses "almost lost to obscurity."

Genealogy on Film: Industry on Parade

It is said the "old times" were simpler times. Whether that is true or not is debatable. Seems the same lament is repeated in every age. Even so, those of us that lived in the 1950s tend to think it was, indeed, a simpler time. Life did not seem to be set on fast forward back then, although we may be viewing it from a child's point of view. In many cases, it's too late to ask our parents. 

In her article, "Genealogy on Film: Industry on Parade," Judy Rosella Edwards explores a fascinating resource from the 1950s, a collection of films showcasing the industry of America and Americans. As the article points out, the workers in the film were actual workers on the job -- not actors: hence, simpler times. In today's promotional films (including folksy commercials), you can pretty well bet actors are playing the roles. The genealogical value of the Industry on Parade film, given its scope, is pretty amazing, and certainly worth checking out the titles to see if any of the films fit the time and place of your ancestors. 

More and more we are seeing film being made available as a genealogical resource. The WWII ‘United News’ Newsreels, being one example. Edward's article brings to our attention yet another area to explore -- documentaries and other films featuring real people, mostly without "staging." It may take some sleuthing to find out what's available and where, but then, that's what we do.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Allen County Public Library Digital Collections

An interesting article on, entitled, "Fiction lovers, history buffs go digital at library," provides a review of digital holdings at the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. While many of the services offered are available to local patrons only, the genealogy section has material available to everyone. Under the heading Popular Picks, the article explains the digitizing effort and resources available.

"The non-profit Internet Archive scans the materials and hosts the Web site, which draws about 1 million visitors a month," according to genealogy manager Curt Witcher. At present nearly 8,000 title are listed.

"Currently the most popular download is the '"Yorkshire Marriage Registers, West Riding, Vol. 2" from 1914. Internet patrons have downloaded the text more than 3,300 times," library spokeswoman Cheryl Ferverda said. Options for viewing the book are in the lef-column.

Marriage records are important resources for genealogists, but library officials aren’t sure why that volume is so popular, she said."

The Allen County Libarary is a great resource for genealogists, long known for its Periodical Source Index (PERSI). 

Genealogy Magazines Offer Valuable Insight

An article on, "Genealogy Magazine takes on genetics," provides an in-depth review of the  Family Tree Magazine December 2009 issue and it's theme, "Complete Guide to Genetic Genealogy," as the article says, "an ambitious claim." The article highlights one article in particular, "DNA Fact or Science Fiction,"and follows up with a number of useful links and additional information on vaccinations over the years.

Watch for end-of-year specials. This time of year, many of the popular genealogy magazines are offering their complete 2009 editions on CD, with searchable content -- a good way to catch up on valuable content you might have missed.

Avoiding common research pitfalls -- a gentle reminder

A brief but insightful article on out of the Press-Register Community News, "Avoiding pitfalls in genealogical research," identifies a number of common mistakes made by beginning and genealogy researchers alike. The article lists it source, and -- It's good to be reminded

Three Reasons You Need Local History Books

In our heart of hearts, we know the benefit digging into local history books. But with more information available online, we may be less inclined to head for the library. Also, as Rita Marshall points out in her article, "Three Reasons You Need Local History Books," when were are enjoying a great bit of success in our research using other resources, it's easy to bypass the often "thick, somber history books detailing a town's history." And yet, local histories often contain hidden gems we that are hard to anticipate. The article offers insight into different ways local histories might be used. It's also important to note that many local histories can be found online at no charge; it's worth entering the title into your favorite search engine to see if the book you seek is offered in full text format -- some offer previews only. However, not all local histories will be offered online, free or otherwise, which means, back to the library: it's worth the trip.

Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Words of Holidays Past

As with so many other things, we take often holiday traditions and practices for granted, seldom stopping to think about their origins. It may also be that some traditions and practices of the past have become antiquated and rarely practiced, caroling from door to door being one example. Our ways of passing the time and socializing and certainly changed. In the article, "Lexicons of Lost Lifestyles: Words of Christmas Past," Jean Hibben explores the language of Christmas, clearing up some commonly held misconceptions and, perhaps, bringing a greater sense of meaning to our holiday observations.