19 December 2014

If Miss Manners, Emily Post, or other experts on etiquette did genealogy!

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Following up on yesterday’s post about family secrets, skeletons, et al, let’s talk about manners.

As we celebrate with family, collect new information, reveal found documentation, ask questions, receive answers, and more, let’s please keep in mind our manners!  Though relevant year-round, the stresses of the holiday season when combined with increased family interactions and interest in ancestors might create a cauldron which can spawn rude behavior within the family.  The same rules of behavior apply to any place you may visit or contact also.

Yesterday we talked about family skeletons and both the delivering and receiving of such news along with the premise that if you don’t want to know about such, family history is probably not the hobby for you! 

Well, courtesy in our genealogical world extends into other aspects as well ...

The post If Miss Manners did Genealogy discusses...
+ Preserve the privacy of our living relatives
+ Give credit where credit is due [Editor’s Note -- aka do NOT plagiarize]
+ Document your research
+ Do your homework before asking for help
+ Beware of biases and skeletons in the closet
+ Make genealogy exciting to others

... and ends by saying ...

Inevitably, all genealogists make mistakes. If you've made an etiquette mistake, try to make it right immediately, and then move on. You don't want to burn any bridges that you might need to cross in the future. Even Miss Manners would tell you that.

There are a few other elements of etiquette that I would add ...
+ When you ask someone to participate in a DNA test and they say no, please respect that they mean NO
+ Don’t barrage anyone you are attempting to contact with excessive emails and/or phone calls, please be patient.  Remember, you want them to help YOU, not totally ignore you
+ Follow the rules (as a guest, researcher, etc) – you don’t have to like them and you do have to follow them and be respective of them (similarly – don’t be combative, argumentative, etc)


Related post are:
+ Genealogy Etiquette (Kristen’s Guide)
+ Etiquette & Ethics (Cyndi’s List)
+ 27 Etiquette Rules for Our Times (Forbes – non genealogical and we are all “people” first then genealogists)

... the latter reference states what to me is a governing tenant when interacting with others ...

Here are 27 rules to help you ... You’ll notice a common denominator in all of them: Think about other people’s feelings first because it’s not all about maximizing your personal convenience.

In some regards you cannot be TOO nice, polite, respectful ...

And, though it can be challenging, you can always apologize, offer a mea culpa, extend an olive branch, or in some manner right the wrong.  Since we've all made etiquette mistakes at one time or another, I'm sure we will understand.


What would you add to a Genealogy-specific “Etiquette” list?



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18 December 2014

Secrets (aka Skeletons in the Closet) -- every family has them -- during the holidays they are perpetuated or sometimes debunked!

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I doubt there is a family out there that doesn’t have a secret of one kind or another.  Some are small (grandma’s real age) and some are much bigger (who the true parents of a person are, that great-granddad was a bigamist or murder or ?!?!) and many more in between.

Over the holidays, it’s not unusual to use the opportunity to ask older family members questions about the family and for those same individuals to share the stories of their life, including what they had been told by their parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc. 

I’ve research many families (including my own) where I discover the birth of a bastard, a previous marriage and/or divorces not mentioned in the material given, evidence of crimes (there’s one family where every male sibling ended up jailed in the late 18th century), institutionalized ancestors, slave owners and much more ...

What is a family historian to do when they learn about news that is likely to be “less than well received?”  If you are the “learner” of this information, will you be sharing it with your extended family?  If not, why not?  If so, how will you do it? If you are the recipient of such news, what will be your reaction? Denial and disbelief or calm acceptance?

I was reminded of all of this when I re-read the article When a Genealogy Hobby Digs Up Unwanted Secrets.  I found the quote at the end to really speak to me.  I’ve always tried to have the perspective that everyone, including our ancestor’s were human, trying to do the best they could given the circumstances of their life.

"I felt obligated to break the news to the family," and "it wasn't well-received," says Dr. Hibben. But she is at peace with it, believing her forebears "did the best they could with what they knew." The take-away for her: "My ancestors were human, and it's OK if I'm human too."

I think it’s important to remember that we are a “product” of the ancestors we find – whether The Good, The Bad and the Ugly or mostly in-between.  Putting them up on pedestals can be dangerous and self-identifying with them to the degree that we only see the good and not the flaws can be hazardous also. Sometimes those “flaws” are what give us the best stories and allow ourselves to laugh at ourselves when we can use great grandpa’s Joe’s family story as a cautionary tale.

Another great article on this topic can be found on A Grave Interest, Skeletons in the Family Closet where she ends by saying ...

Remember that if we continue to keep those family secrets, key components of family history will never get fully revealed or stand a chance of being explained.  That could leave us with a large gap in the understanding of who our ancestors were, and the real information that could help us make sense of them could end up lost forever.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

Some related reading:


If you truly don’t want to know about any skeletons in the closet, you may want to find a new hobby!  I often counsel my clients that if they really don’t want to know the truth, they are better off not asking the questions ...






Editor’s Note: Thanks to Claudia Breland for reminding me of this article.





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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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17 December 2014

The NextGen of Preservationists ...


We talk about preservation a lot!  It’s so critical to ensuring that future generations will have access to the same documents, historic buildings, and more, as we do.

Part of what ensures that is something like the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s HOPE (Hands-On Preservation Experience) Crew program. 

At each local project, preservation craftspeople will mentor and oversee the work of HOPE Crew members, and provide instruction on a range of preservation bricks-and-mortar techniques. The skills that crew members acquire as part of the program provides them with competitive skills in the job market and create opportunities for a new generation of preservation craftspeople.

This is a brilliant way to make sure that a new generation of preservationists is created to continue to maintain national treasures.

I didn’t know that there was such a program until I read, New generation of preservationists at work in Raleigh National Cemetery.

The program pairs preservation crews with youth job training organizations through the national Corps Network to work on repairs across the country. Since the program launched earlier this year, there have been projects at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument in Montana and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

These programs and others like them are exciting to read about.  We often lament that so many skills which were critical to our ancestors have disappeared or are less-practiced in today’s modern world.  We don’t want a situation where important buildings and other structures fall into disrepair because the skills needed have disappeared.  Such training in preservation and conservation are invaluable.

Has a youth-focused conversation/preservation group in your community repaired, preserved or conserved?  Please share the story!




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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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16 December 2014

The National Genealogical Society Introduces New Course: Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestors



ARLINGTON, VA, 16 DECEMBER 2014: The National Genealogical Society announced today the release of its newest Continuing Genealogical Studies (CGS) course: Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestors. Developed by military records expert Craig Roberts Scott, CG, FUGA, the new course expands on NGS’s offerings for teaching military research strategies, and helps achieve NGS’s goal of providing quality educational opportunities to the genealogical community.

In addition to his role as CEO and President of Heritage Books, Inc., Craig Scott has spent decades honing his military research expertise and teaching these skills within the genealogical community. He has coordinated military courses at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and Samford University's Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. His books include Understanding Revolutionary War and Invalid Pension Ledgers 1818-1872 and Pension Payment Vouchers They Represent, and The "Lost" Pensions: Settled Accounts of the Act of 6 April 1838.


In this eight-module cloud-based course, Scott introduces numerous U.S. based records related to those who fought for independence, including compiled service records, prisoner of war records, and pension files. He will also teach strategies to identify and locate information about ancestors who lived at the time of the Revolution.
 
Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestors is available to NGS members for $45.00 and to non-members for $70.00. For additional information or to purchase the course, visit the NGS website at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/researching_your_revolutionary_war_ancestors.



The NGS Continuing Genealogical Studies courses are designed for both beginners and established genealogists who wish to focus on a specific topic and put their ensuing knowledge to work quickly. The courses allow individuals to complete genealogical coursework at their own pace and from the convenience of their own homes.


Two other cloud-based CGS courses are also offered:

In addition to the CGS courses, NGS also offers several courses from its American Genealogical Studies (AGS) series, including:

Advanced AGS courses in a new series called Beyond the Basics are currently in development. This cloud-based series is scheduled for release in 2015 and will complete American Genealogical Studies, which replaces the NGS Home Study Course, the standard in genealogical education for decades.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogy education, high research standards, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, research guidance, and opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

             
             
 


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Archives of Popular Genealogy Programs -- Too busy before? Now you can catch up!



With the holiday season, after we’ve celebrated with family and before we return to work, we sometimes find ourselves with a bit of spare time.

If you find yourself in that situation, and you just want to take it easy on the couch or in your comfy chair, this might be the time to catch up on Finding Your Roots.  Full episode videos are available.

You can also catch some full episodes of another popular show, Who Do You Think You Are? via Youtube.

Or, if you’ve been crazy busy and didn’t have time for Genealogy Roadshow, the Season 1 episodes are available (Season 2 will premiere next month).

And, talking about videos ... don’t forget that the NGS has a YouTube channel with FREE-to-the-public videos and members can access these and other members-only videos via the NGS website.  These may have been mentioned last and they are not the “least!”







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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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15 December 2014

Lots of Unsorted (and Unindexed) Documents Waiting to be Discovered by Family Historians

Created by Uwe Kils (iceberg) and User:Wiska Bodo (sky). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

The federal archives is sitting on a backlog of 98,000 boxes of undocumented government records, some dating to 1890, says Canada’s auditor general...

There is a wealth of material to be sorted, including: 24,000 boxes of military records, 9,800 boxes from Transport Canada, 7,200 boxes from Industry Canada, 6,400 from Public Works and Government Services Canada, and 5,200 from Justice Canada.

Let’s now multiply a version of this by all Federal Archives, State Archives, and more and that is a LOT of documents that are waiting to be discovered by us and future genealogists!


One million cubic feet. Two million boxes. Billions of pieces of paper. No, this isn't the cumulative total of records held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It's only the amount of records we received in our two Washington, D.C.–area facilities from 1995 to 2005.

Of course, the above doesn’t include private collections, religious records, and a whole bevy of other types of records which are archived also! The University of Central Florida Libraries has a page on its web site titled Unprocessed Special Collections which explicitly lists such collections.  Though other archives may not have such a web page, they do maintain internal lists with the same types of information.

This reminds us that for all the resources that have become more readily available online (either directly or via an index or finding aid), there is so much more which we don’t even know exists. 

What way to get a look into the holdings which have not been processed or made publicly available is to see if there have been inventories created for an archive or collections held by it.  For example, when I wonder if the NC Archives has certain “historical” records that I am not seeing in the available catalogs (online & on-the-ground) or finding aids (online & on-the-ground), I check into inventories that were made showing what the “counties” had in their possession.  One was made in the 1960s and is physically at the archives and an earlier version (1938), The historical records of North Carolina: the county records, Volumes 1-3, is available via Internet Archive. 

Such inventories are helpful because they also give a window into whether any records “disappeared” between 1938 and the 1960s or between the 1960s and today.  Some losses are explained by record retention policies and others by ... possibly misadventure.  Odds are that any facilities which might hold the records that interest you, might similarly have "inventories" created at various points in time.  Do ask.

So, as you do your research, recognize that every archive and records repository has a huge iceberg of records and we are only “seeing” the tip!







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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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12 December 2014

UNC, Ancestry.com collaborate to create new history teaching guide -- Family History in the Classroom


For years our local genealogical community has talked about how it would be so great if teachers used family history as a means of teaching history in our local schools.  I know that my favorite way to learn history is through the stories of the people I research (though, a good museum is a close second for me!)

Well, using family history as a means of teaching history has just gotten easier.  There was a “collaboration between Ancestry.com and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education’s outreach arm, LEARN NC, to create a multimedia how-to guide for teachers to use family history resources in their classrooms.” 

You can download the textbook as an ibook or in PDF format via this page.

Accessing Ancestry, Newspapers.com, and the Fold3.com databases, the involved educators reflected on their experience and the textbook provides resources for other educators to create their own family history classroom experiences in this enhanced digital textbook which features video, images, interactive presentations, and downloadable handouts.

Share this with the elementary and middle school teachers that you know.  You just might be paving the way to a future generation excited by both history and family history.







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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog. Any opinions expressed by guest authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of NGS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to UpFront@ngsgenealogy.org. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
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Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
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Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to UpfrontNGS@mosaicrpm.com
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