Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge

I’ve joined the Family History Writing Challenge in hopes that it will get me to actually begin writing.

The challenge covers the month of February. Each person joining the challenge pledges to write a certain number of words per day for the 28 day span. My goal is very modest: only 250 words a day. I hope I’ll do more than that.

Where to begin????  I’m thinking of starting with history; explaining the social and economic conditions that led my great grandparents and so many others to leave their homeland. 

It is far too easy to get stuck in research mode.  It’s a great excuse to use for not writing:  “I haven’t got enough information yet”.  Well, I don’t have enough information, but by beginning to write I’m hoping to more clearly see the gaps in my research.

I don’t have to show anyone what I’ve written so why do I feel so much trepidation about starting???

Monday, January 21, 2013

Madness Monday

What ailments were included in the definition of madness in the early 1900’s?  These days it seems that we define madness in terms of mental illnesses that are not controllable by medications, or in terms of individuals who refuse to be medicated. But I suspect that the definition was very broad in those days and was applied to anyone who had difficulty coping with life as well as those who had severe mental illness.

A 2nd great uncle on my mother’s side died in 1925 in a state mental hospital.  Of course I only discovered this by finding him in that institution in census records.  It was certainly not a topic that was ever mentioned in the family, but it makes me wonder. Clinical depression has been a recurring thread in my mother’s family and I am one of its victims.  Was that his problem?
Can I or should I find out?  Hmmmm……..

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Put it in writing

Like most family historians my intention is to write it all down. How will I approach that?

I’ve become a fan of Marlis Humphrey’s approach: “Next Generation Family History Publishing”.  She reminds us of something that should be a prime focus: our audience.

Who are we writing for?  What will make them want to read what we write?

If we’re writing for other family historians, we’ll want to make sure that every i is dotted and t crossed when it comes to documents and source citations. They’ll appreciate our diligence and thoroughness.  But if we’re writing for future generations, such a comprehensive and scholarly tome will just sit on bookshelves for a while before it is stored in the attic or basement.

My goal is to produce a two tier family story: a different version for each of two kinds of readers. The foundation document will include the details and photos and tree diagrams and documents with citations. From that I will derive a short version that will be as compelling and interactive as I can make it.

 My first priority is to engage my children and grandchildren and those who come after them.  These are people who’ve grown up in the information age; who have been bombarded with snippets and recaps, audio and video clips, sound bites, Facebook, texting and tweets.  I want to be able to grab their attention in such a way that they’ll want to delve deeper in their own history; and provide a place for them to go to when they do. Ms. Humphrey provides examples in her presentations including her own interactive family history book and the wonderfully creative Ology books as seen at Today’s technology tools give us so much more opportunity to make something that will be appealing to people of all ages.

Wow!  What an ambitious project.  I’d better get started.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I’m thankful to all of my great-grandparents for their decisions to come to the United States.  They all were Polish, but when they came over, Poland existed only in the hearts and minds of her people. The nation had been partitioned yet again and Poles were ruled by Prussia, Russia and Austria.  The future there was to be World War I, (“The Great War"), World War II including Nazi concentrations camps, and years behind the Iron Curtain as part of the USSR.

How incredibly lucky are we, the descendents of immigrants!  They had the courage to start over in a new land.  For that, I am grateful.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Everything's Coming Up Roses

While again waiting for LDS films to arrive, I took a short break from family history.  But it’s always lurking in the back of my mind.  After a few days of gen-inactivity, I thought I’d see what I could find on another line on the Family Search site.

I’ve been stuck on John Rose born in New York state in 1812, but moved to Wisconsin where he died in 1891.  There seem to have been hundreds of John Roses born in New York around that date. (OK so I exaggerate; but there were several.)  I had only the birth year and location as shown in census records.

On the family search site, I keyed in his name, birth year and death years and locations.  He popped right up. Data from Wisconsin Deaths and Burials gave me his correct date of birth PLUS the names of his parents, Solomon and Polly Rose. 

It only got better from there, because when I searched on Solomon giving a range of possible birth years I found him and his father who was also Solomon.


Now I’m surprised to find just how many men named Solomon Rose lived in New England in the late 1700s.  So the search continues but this was a huge piece of the Rose puzzle.

Thanks, LDS