Sea Genes

Family History & Genealogy Research

Posts Tagged ‘Genealogy

Sunday’s Obituary: Lawrence E. White, Seattle, Washington

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Rock Victim’s Services Set

Funeral services for Lawrence E. White, 12, who died Thursday in Maynard Hospital of injuries suffered when struck in the head by a rock hurled in play by a schoolmate, will be at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbia Funeral Home. Private cremation will follow. Lawrence was in the sixth grade at John Muir School. He had more than nine years of perfect Sunday School attendance at the Mt. Baker Presbyterian Church.

He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward D. White, 3115 Cascadia Ave., and a sister, Phyllis Mary.

(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, Washington, 1 April 1950, page 14)

Seattle-PI_19500401_p14

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Written by N. P. Maling

28 September 2014 at 00:01

Review: Family Trees by François Weil

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Weil, François. Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. 2013. ISBN 9780674045835.

Family Trees begins by detailing the basis for keeping many of the records that our ancestors kept. He goes on from there to detail the large pictures over the next several hundred years of genealogical research. Weil goes into some detail to discuss how the people and the methods they use are changing over time.

The book is well organized. He weaves each major section of the book together expertly and places each major player in their respective time lines: the record keepers, fraudsters, and reformers all have their places.

The discussion toward the end of the last chapter is especially pertinent today as it deals with the democratization and commercialization of genealogy and family history research. Weil details the industry and its effect on genealogists.

Written by N. P. Maling

26 September 2013 at 11:11

Writing – Creative Non-fiction – Fiction or Fact?

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“Whose story was true?” From Keep it Real, page 77, asks where for the footnotes in historical accounts since the 1970s.[1]

The scope of genealogical and family history writing borders on creativity sometimes. How does one know which parts are fictions and which are verified, and verifiable facts?

One way to determine is the scope of research done by the writer. A writer may have included a preface or introduction laying out the basis for the writing. Another way to tell is simply which material is footnoted and which not. Spot-checking some random facts, or material stated as fact can give you an idea of the veracity of the writer.

  • If no citations, treat the entire thing as fiction
  • If well cited, tread with caution, especially when the data isn’t explained in at least some of the notes.

The article cited in Keep it Real also discusses the dry-as-dust historical writing and the trend away from it. Another question asked is whether the truthfulness of the writing is good or not depending on the marketing acumen of the writer/publisher affects the acceptance of one version but not another. In other words, is the truth subjective? Yes.

There are any number of genealogies out there which could be fact or fiction. The only way to tell is by checking spot only, or better yet, by reviewing the entire writing assertion by assertion.

For example: Without directly referring to the material in the Shearer book[2] on the Mellen family, I was able to construct a quite different view of Richard Mellen’s family. What my little publication on the web amounts to is a subjectively different view of the truth of Richard Mellen’s descendants. Essentially the same could be said about Simon Mellen, one of the alleged sons of Richard.

Again, the only way for a genealogist to figure out the most likely course of events is to compare both versions and decide on their own what the most likely discussion of assertions is the better.

Asking me whose story is true is asking a scholar whether his work is questionable. I will, however say that I believe that my account of Richard Mellen is the more accurate. Not having checked the veracity of the rest of the Shearer book, I could not say whether much or any is either fact or fiction. The only parts I have considered here, and in my writing are the lines from Simon and from Richard in New England.

[1] Gutkind, Lee and Hattie Fletcher, eds. Keep it Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2008.

[2] Shearer, Gail Elizabeth. The Mellen and Shearer Families: Pioneers, Puritans and Patriots. Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, Inc. 2000.

NPM

© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research

Written by N. P. Maling

16 May 2012 at 00:01

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Gustavus Gessner is another relative of the Rudolph Gessner I wrote about in the Seattle Genealogical Society’s recent Bulletin. This is an example of how popular his family was in Ohio and the Civil War years.

Grand Army Blog

Yesterday the New York Times’ Science page featured an article about J. David Hacker’s recent study that has revised upward the long-accepted casualty count of 620,000.  This is well-deserved publicity for Hacker and for Civil War History, the leading scholarly journal in our field.  Hacker’s study reminds us that numbers are politics.  The quest to determine precisely the social impact of the Civil War is nothing new, however — something Hacker readily admits.  Such estimates consumed blue-coated ex-soldiers in the late nineteenth century, and as such Hacker joins distinguished company, including Union veterans Thomas Leonard Livermore, Thomas Brown, and William Fox.

Ex-prisoners of war were particularly determined to right the record books.  Perhaps nobody was more committed to the project than Ohio Union Ex-Prisoner of War Association President Gustavus Gessner, who maintained meticulous records of the dead by corresponding with other rebel prison pen survivors. Gessner became particularly…

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Written by N. P. Maling

19 April 2012 at 11:14