Archive for July, 2014

I was honored to be asked by Emma Jolly to participate in a Writers’ Blog Tour, which aims to showcase writers in a variety of non-fiction and fiction genres and help more people know about their blogs. Emma’s Tour post is over here and includes information on the Tour and on a number of the other participants. Emma invited myself and Debra Watkins to join the Tour. For my turn on the Tour, I am to answer four questions on my writing and then introduce you to the writers that are joining the Tour at my invitation. I apologize that my post is appearing later than it had been scheduled to debut; there was a death in my family (see my most recent post if you want details).

What am I working on?

I am in the process of writing or editing multiple articles on family history and social history for print publications, including an article on utilizing DNA testing in research and an article on a local women’s organization’s programs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I am also working on a non-fiction book about some facets of 19th century America and always have a number of drafts for my blog which are in various stages of writing/editing prior to posting. I enjoy researching and writing about a variety of subjects rather than focusing on a single subject.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One of the main things I like to do regarding family history, in both articles and blog posts, is to try to give people a good idea of the tools to approach a specific type of research; I like to use both specific examples and social history for background so that people can hopefully better understand both specific situations and the general tenor of an area of research, and hopefully carry it forward to their own successful research. While there were general patterns in the past, just like today each situation was unique, and some people were closer to the median than others. With my pieces that focus primarily on social history, I like to try to share stories that seem to have been forgotten with the passage of time, and that hopefully will help the reader understand more about the wider time and place in which that part of history happened. My most recent print article was “The Long Trek Westward: Migration from New England to New York and the Midwest,” published in December 2013.

Why do I write what I do?

I love history – social history, family history, almost all history really. I enjoy sharing my passion for history with others and hopefully helping people to better understand the past and, if they are a fellow researcher, to do more successful research.

How does my writing process work?

It differs somewhat depending on what I am writing. If I am writing an article for publication and know in advance exactly what the topic will be and a required approximate length, I usually write an outline in advance, flesh out the article, and then edit it down to the required size. Occasionally I still do the outline longhand, but more often I start typing from the first word. If I am writing a blog post or writing an article that I intend to submit to prospective publications after finishing, I may start with an outline or I may simply start writing and see where my writing goes. I generally write at home, but I sometimes write in situ, most often in a café or an archive.

Introducing Two More Family History Writers

I now have the pleasure of introducing the next two people on the Tour, two fellow genealogical writers who are also editors. Both live here in the States.

Carol Swaine-Kuzel is a genealogist and a historical researcher. She has written research articles for the New Hampshire Genealogical Record and is co-editor of the New Hampshire Families in 1790 project for the New Hampshire Society of Genealogists.  She blogs about her explorations in genealogical research at Journeys of a Constant Genealogist and about her ancestors’ Civil War experiences in three sesquicentennial tribute blogs: http://20thmassregt150.blogspot.com/, http://13thnhregt150.blogspot.com/, and http://27thctregt150.blogspot.com.

Judi Scott is a genealogical writer, editor, and researcher. For five years she was an editor of The Bulletin, the quarterly publication of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. She has written articles and stories on a variety of genealogical topics but her main interest is discovering and writing family stories.  She specializes in colonial research in Virginia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas but has recently developed a passion researching orphan train children. She blogs at http://puzzlesofthepast.blogspot.com/.

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My father died last week. American Independence Day was his favorite holiday, so today seems like the best day to share a little about him here. He loved fireworks, and would spend the rest of the year planning out his personal fireworks display for July 4th. We would sit on our back porch, and our neighbors would sit on their back porches, and sometimes guests would be invited too. It was only when I grew up that I fully understood how much planning went into it, and how much pride he took in providing one night of delight a year to the rest of us. Where I live now, fireflies are a recent phenomenon, only coming in the past five years or so and still not seen very often. But where I grew up, fireflies are common in summertime, and the 4th of July was the height of their show. I remember, as twilight came to our neighborhood, running in the front yard with friends, holding sparklers as hundreds of fireflies flew around us while we waited for it to be dark enough for my father’s fireworks show to begin.

Below is my father with his mother and his great-aunts (both are his mother’s aunts).

my father on his mother's lap, with her aunts

Below is my father with his father.

my father as an infant, being held by his father

Below is my father with his aunts (both are his father’s sisters).

my father with his aunts

Below is my father with his little brother, Burrie.

my father with his little brother

Below is my father with his older cousin Janie. They are standing at the edge of the lake where his mother’s ashes were scattered and where his ashes will be scattered as well.

my father as a child, with a smiling Janie.

The thing that’s always gotten me the most about death is that life goes on. One life is snuffed out by natural causes or otherwise, a thousand lives in a tsunami or a battle, millions in a global epidemic or a genocide – no matter how it happens or how many die in one day or one event, the world spins on. Rain is lashing my windows as I finish this post, part of the huge Hurricane Arthur that is moving up the Atlantic Seaboard, and there are still bills to pay and a meal to cook. This is why I started my 52 Ancestors posts with my father’s little brother, Burrie, who died as a child, and why I photograph the gravestones of as many colonial children as I can. No one should be forgotten, no matter where or when they lived, no matter how recent or how long ago, no matter whether they lived for one minute or more than a century. After everyone who knew a person has died, it’s up to genealogists, historians, and archivists to carry on the mantle, to keep their existence known and preserve as much of the past as possible. I hope that after I am gone, this post will remain as a signpost to show that my father existed in this world.

Rest in peace, Dad.

my father as a child, looking out a car window.

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