Films to FindI am counting down to a genealogy vacation! I have a billion things to do between here and there (including dancing in a show!) but I’m trying to plot a research plan in snatched moments of down time. I can’t wait!

It’s a chance to do serious research among like minded folk, cross something off my genealogy bucket-list, and at it’s simplest I am getting out of town for a little over a week.

Again… I can’t wait! More from the road soon!

Happy hunting,

Jess

Grandma EthelI hope you’re celebrating with fun in the sun! Have a wonderful birthday and many more to come.

Love you!

Jess

shelfThe last several months have been a bit harried with a move, work, and the odd existential crisis… but I’m still here and I was thrilled to see Thomas MacEntee’s great post about his “Genealogy Do-Over.” While everyday life has also interfered, I think I’ve been quiet on my blog because I’ve been working through similar issues since coming back from GRIP @ Orchard Lake in August. Thomas Jones’ class made me want to clean up my research, get everything properly cited, and appropriately researched and I have been quietly backtracking and making sure there is solid research with multiple sources for my genealogy. And Thomas MacEntee (and everyone who chimed in) is right, that’s a daunting task after nearly 20 years. Yet (very) slowly but surely that’s what I’ve been working on these past few months. I didn’t toss (or set aside) everything, instead deciding to start with my father and work backwards filling in missing citations, reexamining sources to wring out additional information, and examining sources I didn’t have on hand (or for that matter think to use) when I started my research.

A great example of the latter has been using city directories. I made a tremendous leap forward on my mother’s very urban ancestors by working my way through the directories of Detroit, Michigan. It filled in tremendous gaps, raised interesting questions and ultimately led me to the discovery of the Massey family. But when researching rural Arkansas families I had not thought to apply that same idea, so in this pass I searched the city directories that have been loaded into Ancestry only to find that those men I always thought of as rural lumberman and farmers spent a fair amount of time in the cities. I found Grandpa Levie working in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, before moving to Detroit and one of his (and my grandmother’s) cousins, Dewitt Trotter (from an earlier Trotter-York marriage), is well-documented in the directories for El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas.

SkiffLouisaNewEngMedGazette1869This review, so far, has exposed paths I had either missed or turned away from—including some that have led to fascinating new finds such as: two relatives with intriguing probate files committing them to the Northern Michigan Asylum; a previously unnoticed marriage between a man I believe to be my great grandfather’s older brother and my great-grandmother’s aunt; and the 50-year career of my a 5th grand aunt, Dr. Louisa Skiff Millard Clark, a respected homeopathic physician in the late 19th century in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Without systematically working through the siblings of my direct ancestors I was missing so much texture—not to mention information that directly connected to my ancestor.

To be fair to myself a lot of these things I have done well in my recent research but the work I did when I was in college is not up to par and those relatively large sections of my research need the review. As the new year unfolds you may see me chiming in on aspects of the “Genealogy Do Over” while I continue my own style of review but I definitely agree with the concept and think everyone needs to step back from time to time and try to look at their work with new eyes and the finer honed skills that come with practice and education.

Happy hunting,

Jess

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman and illustrator Bagram IbatoullineSo, one of my genealogy related projects this month was a preschool storytime for work which meant I had to track down great books to interest kids in talking about their families and their stories. My fabulous find for the year was The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman and illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline. It’s wonderful!

This picture book begins with a great-grandfather asking his great-granddaughter to pick anything in a memory filled room and he would tell her a story. She picks an old cigar box and so begins the diary he started as a child in Italy before he could read or write and continued as his family immigrated to the United States. The story is hard and beautiful, the art work amazing and detailed. It’s a perfect book to share to talk about the immigrant experience and family stories. It is a bit long for a storytime but my fabulous children’s librarian reminded me that you can skip around with this age group, so a few properly placed paperclips made it just right.

For my craft portion of the day I gave them all  plain boxes to decorate and keep their memories in. They decorated with markers, puffy letters, and assorted bits o’stuff we keep in the closet—in other words glue stick fun!

Other great picture book picks:

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan—a wordless fantastic masterpiece about the immigrant experience.
  • Grandpa Green by Lane Smith—a great-grandfather’s life story in topiary.
  • All Kinds of Family by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marc Boutavant—on the broad concept of family.

Do you know of other good family history related reads for kids? Please pass them on!

Happy hunting,

Jess

PackerAlbum12A colleague and I took a road trip over to Howell Carnegie Library last week to attend their program “A Healing Place” – Memories of the Michigan State Sanatorium, Howell State Hospital, and Hillcrest Center. The turnout was tremendous (as in we were standing in a hall way for the duration and many were turned away) emphasizing the importance of the “Hill” or the “San” to the history of both Livingston County and the state. I was interested because of my great-grandparents experiences in between 1916 and 1920 while my colleague had more recent ties. It was a fascinating night that included a short dvd created for the program on the history of the site and ample time for stories and reminiscing. I really hope that they manage to offer an encore of the program because I think they only scratched the surface and could easily fill a large venue.

Thanks for a fabulous program!

Happy hunting,

Jess

Photo: I don’t know who these ladies are but the picture is likely taken by my Great Grandmother, Cora Packer, during her stay in at the “San” in 1916.

This is one of my favorite shots.
You’ll be missed “Grandma” Lorraine! (1932-2014)

Happy hunting,

Jess

image

Someone hit double digits this week!

Checking out frogs with his Bailey cousins many years ago.

Trotter-Bailey-Frog

Happy hunting,

Jess

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