Thursday, November 15, 2007

Family and Law in American History

Last night I tried to write a multiple blog but got too tired and it was lost. I just realized that I didn't address the second part earlier today, which I will do now.

Last year one of the classes was entitled "Family and Law in American History." It opened my eyes to so many things. All of these classes try to expose us to as much information as possible; it is like drinking from a fire hose, way too fast to actually apply what we have had introduced.
One of the records of interest to me has been Wills, but I never understood the volume of records generated when the Will is proved. I probably requested my Great Grandfather's Will 20 years ago so I transcribed it and filed it away in his folder. It was interesting. This year I had an extra $40 so I decided to use it and ordered his probate file with 125 pages including the Orphan Court records. I just sent for it last week, I believe, and it had to be delivered to Peoria, Illinois; it isn't reasonable to look daily for the envelope in the mail but my curiosity is high and I want to know what could generate 125 pages. I hope it holds some interesting information about him, or the family.

I know it should have an inventory of his possessions. Since studying his 1870 Census and discovering he had $6,000 of Real Estate and $1,000 in his Personal Estate (which is about the amt found for individuals that have $12,000 in Real Estate, or twice the average), I have wanted to know what he owned that was so expensive or how much he owned. I hope it is worth the investment. Patiently waiting....

In the class, there was a lot of reading about the position of women through the years in the US. I was livid at the status of a women in the 1600 and 1700s but it has gradually gotten better. I am so glad I am living at this time! To research women during this time period is very difficult but I haven't tried yet. The research I have done for men in Pennsylvania at this time is nothing to shout about but women didn't have rights under the law. They were an appendage of their husband for good or evil. The part that raised my ire was that women weren't allowed to be in a position that would make them liable and possibly sued or imprisoned-'it would deprive the husband of her wifely duties!' WHAT? I guess I am not really over it yet!

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