â€œIf you donâ€™t know your history, then you donâ€™t know anything. You are a leaf that doesnâ€™t know it is part of a tree.â€
~ Michael Crichton
Today begins Family History Month here in the U.S., and weâ€™re kicking it off with our lead article on writing your personal history by best-selling author, D.G. Fulford. This month your challenge isÂ to answer fiveÂ questions each week fromÂ each Weekly Planner topic that we will focus on–or make up five of your own. This weekâ€™s topic is school memories. Here are some questions to get you started:
Feel free to share your memories in the Comments sections of the blog. Your memories may help spark the memories of other readers who had similar experiences.Â
For more interesting questions, seeÂ TheRememberingSite.org.
The most valuable advice Iâ€™ve ever received wasnâ€™t from my mother. It was from a drawing teacher.
I was in a life-drawing class, paralyzed, pencil in hand, facing my opponent–the only thing that stood between me and my intention. Almost taunting me, it was the fearsome blank page. Hereâ€™s the advice, uttered by this teacher, a man I remember nothing about except these words he aimed out into the room that struck a bullâ€™s eye with me.
â€œWhatâ€™s the worst thing that could happen?â€ he said as he walked around the studio. The floor was hard and you could hear his footsteps. â€œWhatâ€™s the worst thing that could happen? Hereâ€™s the worst thing that can happen: Youâ€™ll waste a piece of paper.â€
That was the most freeing remark I ever heard. It said, â€œBegin, and if you donâ€™t like it, then begin again.â€
Sitting in front of our computers, we donâ€™t have to worry about wasting that paper, but that silent blank screen still can stop us. We want to add stories to our names, dates, and places and donâ€™t know where to start.
The marvelous news is that we are ourÂ own resource. Family stories are our points of reference in every situation. They are involuntary responses, like sneezing. We see a hat worn by a man in an old movie and our minds jump to our grandfathers in their favorite chairs with the afternoon newspaper in their laps. We roll our carts by the butcher case at the grocery store and a passing glance at cubes of stew beef transports us to our motherâ€™s kitchen, reaching for her blue-speckled roasting pan, the one with the lid. Continue reading
Fifty years ago a series of volcanic eruptions in the Azores, a group of Atlantic Ocean islands, caused a mass migration of people to Rhode Island. You can read about the changes in the lives of these immigrants in a recent story in a local newspaper, East Bay).
In the case of these immigrants, natural disaster prodded them to leave home. The story reminded me of all the different ways in which our families become fractured and how these events affect our family history.
People from all over the world began streaming into the land we call the United States almost since the first explorer set foot on its shores. Some individuals came alone and others in family groups in a process that continues today. Often these folks left relatives behind in their homeland. Proof exists in family collections of letters and photos offering reassurance that loved ones arrived safely in their new land. Yet, unless communication was easy and frequent (and even when it was), new generations of Americans lost touch with their family back home. It happens.
Finding those â€œmissingâ€ relatives requires persistence, patience, and proof. Start by looking for tangible information (e.g., passports, naturalizations, diaries, correspondence, and photographs). Ask relatives about oral traditions relating to your immigrant ancestorâ€™s arrival. Then search the Immigration Collection on AncestryÂ and the passenger lists on EllisIsland.org. Read the educational information on both sites to see if your ancestors fit the time period covered by these digital databases. If not, you might want to look at the Immigration & Naturalization category on Cyndislist.comÂ for tips and resources. Continue reading
You have found your ancestor in the 1820 and 1830 censuses, but he cannot be located in the 1840 census. What can you do? There are several approaches, but one idea is to locate his 1820 and 1830 neighbors in the 1840 census and see if your ancestor is nearby with his name woefully misspelled or written in a barely legible fashion. It is possible that your ancestor moved out of state; locating those 1820 and 1830 neighbors in that “new” location may allow you to find your ancestor living there among them.
Of course, it is always possible that your ancestor is dead in 1840 and not enumerated at all. And there is always the chance that if he is living with one of his grown children in 1840 that the grown child is listed as the head of the household. In this case, the ancestor is there, but just one of the “tic” marks for an older family member.
I read a suggestion from Lauren which said, â€œI am also writing in a â€˜blank bookâ€™ journal about all sorts of things I remember from my growing up years.â€
If I might, I’d like to make a suggestion about doing this. I am seventy-five and shortly after getting my first computer about a dozen years ago, I started chasing down family names, facts, etc. and was bitten by the genealogy bug. In addition, I found that I craved more personal information about some of these folks. I decided to try to get my own “things” in order.
I have a computer journal in addition to a written one. In the computer journal I wrote down every year starting with 1932 and saved it on my computer. As I found time or as I thought of things I started filling in events that happened in certain years. I’d find photos of me starting school and the house we lived in when we lived in certain towns (my father was an oil field worker, so we moved a great deal). I added historical events–Pearl Harbor, D-Day, V-E Day, V-J Day, and many other things. It got to be so much fun.
When I thought I was through, I sent copies to my children and they added events that I had omitted. I also add to it as medical events are occurring these days. It has become so useful for me in remembering when personal things happened in our family. Now I have a great timeline that has become a springboard for my own children to hopefully grow their own timeline from.
Jody Continue reading
The year was 1960 and the U.S. and Russia were in a â€œspace race.â€Â An outgrowth of the Cold War, the two super powers had already sent up satellites, and plans were underway to send men into space, and eventually to land on the moon.
The first weather satellite, Tiros I, launched on 1 April 1960 and changed weather forecasting forever. Nine more satellites followed within months giving meteorologists a view of cloud cover. The addition of infrared sensors later would allow for the tracking of temperatures around the globe.
The world had long since embraced the automobile, and in 1960, nearly 57 percent of U.S. households owned an automobileÂ [Excel link], with another 21 percent owning two or more. More than 63 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, versus nearly 37 percent in rural areas.
Television was also now mainstream with nearly 90 percent of U.S. households owning a television set (52 million televisions). Fifteen years prior, it is estimated that there were fewer than 10,000 sets in the U.S.Â Viewers watched new television shows hitting the airwaves such as The Flintstones, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Bugs Bunny Show.Â While Bugs had been around for many years, he was on primetime TV in 1960. Continue reading
Contributed by Clay Taylor, Magnolia, Arkansas
This is a photo of my great-grandparents, Joseph Walter Bowen, (1889-1956) and Mary Francis (Stover) Bowen (1889-1919). Their children were, from left to right, my grandmother, Ruby Dale Bowen (1910-98), Hazel M. Bowen (1913â€“2003), and Leonard Edward Bowen (1909-85). This picture was taken around 1914 and at this time they lived in Bethel, McCurtain County, Oklahoma.
Click on the image to enlarge it.
Contributed by Bev Buss
This is a photograph of my grandmother, Gebke (Busboom) Baehr (8 November 1887-18 to February 1977). She was born in Illinois, but spent most of her life near rural Pickrell, Nebraska, and rural Adams, Nebraska. This photo was probably taken in the early 1900s. She married my grandfather, Paul Baehr in 1907.
Cupar, the former County Town of Fife, has a superb series of indexes to newspapers held by its local library. The index card collection at Cupar Library consists of approximately 210,000 records, covering events such as births, marriages, deaths, wedding anniversaries, personal achievements, and personal tragedies.Â
Ancestry has posted a database of this index, with images of the index cards. The cards reference articles and announcements found in several Fife area newspapers from 1833-1983. Newspaper index cards are a rich source of information for genealogists, and often contain information not possible to get elsewhere, or that has been lost from “official” records.
Local newspapers are famous for publishing as many names and details of local people as possible. They come and go, sometimes merging and sometimes disappearing completely, with a new publication taking their place. But a range of newspapers will cover one geographical area across a span of time. Armed with the information gleaned from the index, genealogists can contact the archive or library directly for more information or a copy of the relevant article. Continue reading