Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (April 27, 2013)

Saturdays often allow a more leisurely approach to life than work days. I can more easily post links to some blog posts or other materials I have discovered during the week, or even to those discovered during a Saturday morning coffee and extended surfing of the blogosphere/internet.

Here are a few serendipitous discoveries from this week that I commend for inclusion on your reading list.

1.  Alertness and serendipity go hand-in-hand.  Unless you are prepared, primed, and  alert to what you are reading, a serendipitous discovery will usually remain buried and undiscovered in the media.  Heather Wilkinson Rojo at Nutfield Genealogy provides a wonderful example of how being alert can help unlock a mystery through recognizing the potential relevance of just two words in a one-paragraph announcement in an 1881 newspaper.  Go here to see the paragraph, discover the two words, and read the full story about finding part of the answer to a continuing genealogical mystery.

2.  There are only 320,000 residents of the country of Iceland (a population almost 1,000 times smaller than the United States) . . . and they just might be the most genealogy-obsessed people on the planet.  With such a small population and a history going back tens of thousands of years, the likelihood   of one Icelander being related to another in some way is pretty good.  So what kind of marketing opportunity does this bring to mind?  Why the need for an "incest app" of course!  Read more about this entrepeneurial by-product of the digital genealogical database of the inhabitants of Iceland here.
3.  With May Day a mere four days away, here is a nice read on the website of the Edina [Minnesota] Historical Society about the background of the disappearing tradition of the May Day Basket.  I am mentioning this also as a "teaser" for a special post I have scheduled for May Day 2013 here on The Prism.  I hope those of you who read this stop by on May 1st to see what I have to show you and pass on the link to those who might be interested.  Maybe we genealogy bloggers should mount a campaign to bring back the May Day Basket tradition?
4.  This week we also have two posts by two Heathers that deal with an extremely sad chapter in our national history -- the enslavement of other human beings.  First, Heather Kuhn Roelker at Leaves for Trees continues the saga of her brave ancestor, Daniel D. Lightner.  In Part III we find out how and why Daniel vowed to fight slavery not just with words, but with personally risky action.  And then there is another interesting post on Nutfield Genealogy, Heather Wilkinson Rojo's blog.  See and read about a 1779 petition for freedom by 20 enslaved men from New Hampshire.  These men were from the "Live Free or Die" State.  Five  eventually lived free -- the other fourteen were left to the alternative and died.  New Hampshire took a symbolic action on April 24, 2013 after 233 years -- but not until two legislators apparently had to be convinced that symbolic actions do matter.  Read about the petition, the petitioners and the result here.      

5.  With all the controversy we see and hear and read about with respect to the use of photographs posted by others, and the need to ask permission, and to give proper credit, etc., etc., here is a story mentioned in The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS.  It involves the gift that just giving an unencumbered  photograph can bestow.  Read the story here -- and then go scan those polaroids! 

6.  For those with roots in Rhode Island, or just an interest in Rhode Island history, the Providence Journal has a nice feature called Time Lapse Blog where they "post a photograph from Rhode Island's history every day at facebook/Providence Journal."  They maintain a Time Lapse Gallery that showcases "all the lead photos and links to the stories."  Have a look -- you never know what you might find!  

7.  Most of us love having some artifact or heirloom of a long-departed ancestor or relative -- and we will even pay for such items if we can afford them and can just somehow discover that the items still exist.  Well here is a site that might be worth checking out if the possibility of recovering relocated family heirlooms and antiques intrigues you. strives to be "the link between 'Orphaned Heirlooms' in the hands of antique dealers & collectors & the families who would cherish them."  There is a $20.00 annual membership fee for full feature access, but you might find it worth checking out.
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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  1. Thanks, John, (from the other Heather), for mentioning two of my blog posts. I look forward to your list every weekend to see what good stories I may have missed in my blog reading!