About "Good to Know: A Genealogist's Guide"

A multi-discipline approach to genealogy - A genealogist's way of working generally encompasses several different fields of study at once, thus the more well-rounded your genealogist is concerning various disciplines of study, the better that genealogist will be able to locate your ancestors, and maybe even tell you a little about what they were like.

This blog will discuss what types of things are "Good to Know" for a genealogist or for anyone researching his/her own family tree.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recommended Reading List

I've been reading quite a bit lately, seeing what I can learn about the time periods I research. A knowledge of history is so important in the field of genealogy. The more you learn about the way people lived their day-to-day lives, the better able you are to understand the choices these individuals made and why.

Amongst the mass of books I've ordered in the past year, I found a wonderful series that focuses on the day-to-day life of people from various time periods in America. They are a treasure trove of information. I'm currently on the third book in the series and it's just as good, if not better than the one before it.

Even though they are written by different authors, the three I've read so far are all very well written, informative & not easy to put down. I highly recommend the "Everyday Life in America Series".

1) "Everyday Life in Early America" by David F. Hawke
2) "The Reshaping of Everyday Life: 1790-1840" By Jack Larkin
3) "Expansion of Everyday Life: 1860-1876" by Daniel Sutherland

If you're interested in Colonial Medicine and Doctors, here's a good book on that topic.
"The Doctor in Colonial America" By Zacharry B. Friedenberg

This book is full of information about how they practiced medicine in the colonial period, which includes the Revolutionary War. It's not one of those books that's filled with medical terms, but accessible & simply understood language by an author who is also a doctor himself. He writes about amputations without anestesia, war wounds, sanitation controversies, bleeding, scurvy (and it's somewhat accidental treatment), dysentary, smallpox, inoculations, strange diagnosis, probable misdiagnosis, treatments that include such things as mercury and so much more...

Happy Reading!

Ancestor Approved Award Nominations

As a recipient of the "Ancestor Approved Award" I was also asked to pass on the award to 10 other genealogy bloggers.

If you should choose to accept the award, the requirements of said action are as such:
1) Write a blog which explains the "Ancestor Approved Award":
    Include the image above as it represents the award itself.   
    It was created in Mar 2010 by
Leslie Ann Ballou, author of Ancestors Live Here.
    She created the award as a way to show how much she appreciates and enjoys "blogs full of tips and tricks as well as funny and heartwarming stories...". 
2) List ten (10) things which surprised, humbled or enlightened you about your ancestors. 
3) Nominate ten (10) blogs for the "Ancestor Approved Award"

My Nominations for the "Ancestor Approved Award"  (in no particular order):
1) Genealogy By Ginger's Blog

2) Finding Family Stories
3) Keeping the Story Alive: Sharing genealogical resources, stories and techniques from one determined researcher to others 

4) Searching Every Corner, Researching Every Turn  
5) Family History Tech: Leveraging Technology for Genealogy
6) The TechnoGenealogist

No Contact Info Found
The Modern Genealogist 
8) Digicopia Genealogy Resources
9) Resting in Pennsylvania
10) Civil War Women Blog

If anyone knows a way to contact those on the "No Contact Info Found" list, please let me know or direct them to this page.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ancestor Approved Award

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Irene Winterburn who writes the blogs: Jirene's Genealogy Tips & Jirene's Genealogy Treasures.  I was thrilled to find she had nominated me for the "Ancestor Approved Award": an award created in March 2010 by Leslie Ann Ballou, author of Ancestors Live Here, as a way to show how much she appreciates and enjoys "blogs full of tips and tricks as well as funny and heartwarming stories...".  Thank you Irene Winterburn! 

As a recipient of the "Ancestor Approved Award" I'm supposed to list ten things which surprised, humbled or enlightened me about my ancestors.  It took me a while, but I finally came up with those 10 things.  I was also asked to pass on the award to 10 other genealogy bloggers.  I haven't yet figured out who they're going to be yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do.

So, what are the 10 things that surprised, humbled or enlightened me about my ancestors?  Many of them involve one of my Civil War ancestors, probably because I know so much more about him than most of my other ancestors.

1)  I am humbled by the courage & strength of my several greats aunt, Sarah Towne Cloyce, who stood up for her sisters' wrongful deaths when they were hung for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusettes.  It's not just that she stood up to the court that murdered her sisters, it's the fact that she was a woman who was standing up to the all-male court in the early 1700s.  Seems fitting to honor her during this Women's History Month.

2)  I am humbled at how my ancestor, Samuel H. Melcher, was able to treat his patients in a time when so little was known about the human body, diseases & treatments. 
I've been reading up about doctors, medicine, and treatments in colonial and later times, and the more I learn about what little knowledge they had, the more surprised I am that they were able to do so much with so little...not to mention the lack of technology.  In those times, treatments were often one of the following: mercury, bleeding, blistering & purging.  They also didn't really know what "germs" were and many thought pretty much all diseases were derived from "bad air".  Possibly due to this reasoning of bad air being the cause of disease and illness, many doctors and surgeons didn't wash their hands before, after or between patients. Yuk.

3) I was surprised to learn that my Civil War Surgeon (from above) ancestor went through his entire life without ever having to perform an amputation.

I was surprised to learn that the Civil War Surgeon (from above) was able to successfully divorce his wife on the grounds of "desertion" when he was the one who moved away and did the "deserting".  Why did he move away?  He was caught with a prostitute when he was the head of a hospital and was dismissed.  When he told his wife they were moving, she told him she wasn't coming with him.  According to the courts, the fact that she didn't go with her husband amounted to her desserting him.  Weird, huh?

5)  I was surprised to learn that two of my ancestors, Thomas Goodfellow & Charles Woodbury Melcher (son of Civil War Surgeon mentioned above) were inventors and actually had patents.  I was also surprised to find that Google has a way to view those patents.

6)  As a "trekkie", I was surprised to find I had a connection to Star Trek with a distant cousin, the granddaughter of Bing Crosby: Denise Crosby.  She played Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first two seasons before she was killed off by a tar-like creature on an away mission. Still, woo-hoo!  

7)  I'm humbled by the fact that had those individuals on the Mayflower not rescued John Howland after he went overboard, I wouldn't be here today.

8)  I'm surprised at how addictive genealogy is.  Whether it's the name printed on the back of a football jersey or watching the credits roll by on a tv show or movie, I think about genealogy.  I've had trouble getting to sleep sometimes when faced with a particularly difficult genealogical challenge.  I often find myself analyzing the data I have in my head trying to think of places I can search, what I might have missed or where I haven't looked instead of just letting myself relax and drift off to sleep.  I've even had genealogy-themed dreams.

9)  I know I'm supposed to say how I was enlightened by my ancestors, but it's important that I include here how I was enlightened by my genealogist father as well.  I worked with him, learning the techniques of genealogy research as I was doing my criminal justice internship. Prior to this, I was unaware of all that genealogy entailed.  It wasn't just knowing what records were out there, but which ones to search at what times, how every case was completely different and it required your brain to adjust to totally different circumstances and then reach a conclusion as to when to look where and how to analyze the massive amounts of data.  There's so much about genealogy that involves you, the genealogist, to know what bits of information are important and should be taken note of, and which things aren't.  Every step of the research involves you making decisions, and every decision is entirely different as we have totally different information and a totally different goal for every search.  We have to take into account what we have, what we don't have, and what we are searching for and where to look for it.  The complexity of it all & the ability to organize and multi-task is paramount in how successful one will likely be in achieving their goals in the rhelm of genealogical research.  Not all of this is easily taught, even by a genealogist who has been doing research since before I was born.  Somehow, though, I learned these things.  Thanks Dad!

10)  Finally, although this isn't about my ancestors per se, I'm pleasantly surprised at the generousity of genealogists I have come into contact with.  Even though, it may have taken hours upon hours to create a tree that goes back hundreds of years, they are gladly willing to share the information with those who request it without expecting anything in return.