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!

Computers in Family History

Wow, it has been a month since my last post. Since this is a new experience, it was fun to see that two people not only read it, but took the time to comment. Thanks.
I realize after two semesters of classes that my limit should be only one class a semester! I guess I want to push the envelope (really I want to get through school as soon as possible and get on with my career). Realizing this, it is unbelievable that I have opted to take 2 classes-CRAZY-every semester! I learn and experience a lot as a result of being involved and stretching my experience in the field but.... We have about a month to go and it takes a lot to stay on top. It all sounds so easy during class but at home.... Our instructor is a good backup when problems arise. He'd like us learn to be independent and shares what we can do for help but there is nothing like someone holding your hand as you enter new realms. This class I am taking has thrown me into the electronic age. I have loved my PC but now I need a laptop, too! I can do without it and have for years but I feel a need to report as I research and not try to catch up at home. The way I am doing it now means two different reportings and wasted time.
In this class we have evaluated (1) different genealogy software programs to find the one that supports what we think is most important, (2) he has encouraged us to learn and use MS Access to get into the historical aspect of genealogy. We can develop our own historical reports with our family participating in the study. It makes it more interesting to the reader, when their family is compared in relationship to peers to see how they fit in their community and the events going on in their world. Everything influences the decisions people make in their life and these would allow us to go beyond the names, dates, and places and but flesh on the bare bones. (3) We had visitors come in and share the concept of family reconstruction. Whole nations are considered in the projects and family groups created from the national records. People could then search the site with their family names and try to extend their pedigree or background information. (4) We considered Online communication and have learned how to set up blogs**, RSS Feeds, Google alerts, Wikis, Groups, Forums, Mailing lists, and social networking to enhance Family History and Genealogy. (5) We learned how to create a Websites and how to evaluate them. My next step is to try to set one up. With the templates available and free sites willing to be the server, it sounds all too easy. I need to have a site for myself and know how to make genealogy websites for my clients. (6) Last night we discussed the steps for taking oral histories (if we still have cassettes recorders, we can now convert the recording to digital so it can be archived in a form that will be used longer). We discovered the world of digital voice recorders; headphones with mics; Audacity/Wavepad; sites where you can post the podcast you have created and others can visit and listen to it; and the possibility of creating a movie by putting video and a voice recording together. In the next few weeks we will discuss digital image manipulation, creating famly history videos, different computer products like CDs, preparing our own PowerPoint presentation, and the importance of genealogy conferences and networking. This class has exposed me to areas that I wouldn't have taken the time to explore by myself and introduced me to products and sites that now have more appeal to me.
Last weekend I attended a conference and in one of the classes a fellow was sharing how he prepares to make onsite research trips. In his backback, he carries a laptop, digital SLR camera with regular and closeup lens, regular point and shoot digital camera, digital video camera (who wouldn't like to see the area that an ancestor lived, the church they may have attended, or perhaps old buildings), headset and mic, foreign/US power strips, extra rechargeable batteries and base, cables, PDA, and the list goes on. It sounds like this profession can be expensive for equipment. This fellow's wife feels they are all just "play things" but they produce a great variety of products and research aids to share with others. That is the basis of this business. Perhaps I need to get more involved and actually invest. Thanks, Lynn.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10-17-07 In the beginning....

When I was a kid, there was a game show named "What's My Line?." There was a panel that wore blind folds, asked questions, and guessed by the answers what the contestant's occupation was. My "line" is genealogy and my interest was sparked when my Dad died. We were going through his possessions and discovered the hand written journal of my great-grandmother, Lisadore Williams Taylor. Reading her journal gave me an opportunity to bond with this woman, who had died years before my birth.
I was educated as a Dental Hygienist and it has been good to me for many years, but my life is benefited by my search of my family! There is something about the search and the connection to the past that has its lure. History has become my favorite subject and I apply it on a minute level. I have to know detailed history to understand the records available and the jurisdiction where the records will be held.
In the last year I have been able to attend University classes on genealogy. I gave a presentation in September and in my biography I mentioned how my horizons had been expanded by taking these classes. I heard a woman say she wanted me to elaborate on this. I didn't have the time then, but I want to share my feelings.
One of the ways I have grown, is an introduction to genealogy journals and magazines. I love to learn more about records, research methods, and other people's discoveries. I am excited to see what else I can learn; I love it. This is part of the joy I have from the classes, I have been able to take. I have never felt this way about Dental Hygiene or the journals pertaining to it. I know I should have started on a professional level years ago! I have always loved math and science; it is interesting to me that now my interest is a social science, history.