Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (May 4, 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.   On February 17, 2013 I had a post here at The Prism titled, "Genealogists' Addiction Vindicated."  A recent piece by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times discusses in more detail why a child's sense of being part of a larger family helps him or her to be more resilient and better able to moderate the effects of stress.  Moreover, the children who have the most self-confidence also have a strong sense of  intergenerational self.  They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.  Go here to read the full article and then get busy building that family narrative called a genealogy!  ;-)

2.  Since I am lucky enough to have the 1913 - 1914 diary of my paternal grandfather from his days at Phillips Academy, Andover Massachusetts, I understand the value a diary can have for giving detail and color to a family genealogy.  I must admit, however, that I had not given much thought to using the diary of non-family members in constructing the lives of ancestors.  Fortuitously, Jim Sanders has performed the leap for us and has written about it at Genealogy Blog

3.  On January 14, 2013 I had two posts here relating to the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island.  You can see them here and here.  The Weekly Genealogist, edited by Lynn Betlock at NEHGS, has a piece by Lynn this week where she provides this link to the Dorr Rebellion Project website (and kindly gives my American Ancestors article on the subject a mention).  For those with an interest in Rhode Island history, this site can be a valuable tool in your research kit.  And if you have family from Rhode Island, you might be find it interesting to research if they were Dorrites or not.  Thank you Lynn!

4.  I posted here this week about an example in my genealogy of the disappearing May Day Basket tradition.  I recommend surfing over to The Family Curator to the May Day post by the Curator herself. Denise Levenick has a post about a more modern incarnation of the tradition that she and her sister engaged in during the 1960s.  Let's see if we can start to revive this tradition so it can be a fun blog prompt in 2014 for May Day photos and stories! 

5.  And still speaking of May Day, you REALLY need to take a few minutes to visit this website by Barbara Marlow Irwin.  It is dedicated to the maypole tradition.  Make sure you scroll down past the collection of vintage maypole photos to where the first non-maypole photos are posted and you will appreciate the now poignant nature of this historical photographic gem.  Then continue down to see the loving dedication represented by its continuation!  

[QUIZ TIME:  Which American college has a continuing maypole tradition going back over 100 years?  Place your answer in the Comments to this post.  My daughter-in-law, Pamela, is disqualified if she reads this since she has her graduate degree from the college.

6.  I have visited Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls, Rhode Island many times over the years because a good number of my Tew ancestors and family members are buried there.  Not too long ago I  learned that my 2x great grandparents (Mason and Martha Freeman) are also buried there.  But it was only two days ago while surfing around some old posts on the blog of Wendy Grant Walter (From A to Zophar) that I learned a startling fact about Moshassuck Cemetery that I never knew before.  Even if you have no connection to the Cumberland/Central Falls area of Rhode Island or to Moshassuck Cemetery, you will find this bit of fairly modern history amazing.  Scroll down to the paragraph just after the American flag photo and have a read here.  I know that the next time I am up at Moshassuck I am going to look a lot more closely at the gravestones!

7.  Any map lovers out there MUST check out the new map resource at the Digital Library of America (DLA).  There are now some 38,000 historical maps that can be viewed at the DLA.  A colleague at work shared the following link that explains how this astounding resource came to be so available to the public.  Thank you Dave for pointing out this link . . . and THANK YOU David Rumsey for painstakingly digitizing your huge collection and deciding to make it accessible on the Internet rather than locked away in a brick and mortar library!

And to end this post- May Day post with a return to the theme of flowers in May . . . today is the annual Mayflower luncheon of the Virginia Mayflower Society.  This year we will be at Natural Bridge, Virginia (which was once owned by Thomas Jefferson).  Remember the old saying, "April showers may bring May flowers . . . but it's the Mayflower that brings the Pilgrims!"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    


  1. I know the answer to your quiz question. My daughter has two degrees from Simmons College. Their alumna group on Facebook posted photos of this years May Day dancing 'round the May pole.

  2. Yikes, Simmons grad here; I must have been off hiking... Or perhaps the South Hall gals were a bit too avant garde.

    Dreadful reading about the Labor Riots. It mentioned the picketers were unarmed, but maybe that wasn't established until afterward, or someone threw a stone and all hell broke loose. It was a stressful era. I'd like to think crowd control has become more sophisticated since Kent State, but I suppose, as in the movie, "Do the Right Thing", little things can merge/react/snowball into a full scale amok, or one little thing is done, or isn't done, and everything turns out okay. As long as we keep learning and moving forward...

  3. Hi Heather and Pam!

    Actually, the college I had in mind is Bryn Mawr. Maypole dancing has reportedly been a tradition there since 1900. The college website describes the May Day festivities thus: May Day
    All-day celebration that occurs the Sunday after the last week of classes. The entire college community comes together for a day of medieval festivity and a general good time. May Day begins with the seniors rising to go wake the President of the College; followed by class breakfasts. Following breakfast, May Day gets kicked off with a parade that begins at Rockefeller Arch and ends on Merion Green. After the parade, there is Maypole Dancing. Each class gets a Maypole in its class color, and the McBride/Graduate Student Maypole is in the McBride color of purple and the college color of yellow. There are many events throughout the day, including Scottish dancing, Morris dancing, the traditional King Arthur Play, the sophomore class play, the Robin Hood Play, a cappella concerts, various cultural dancing and music displays, and there is always a large concert in the afternoon on the Merion Green. May Day is concluded with the traditional showing of 'The Philadelphia Story,' starring fellow Mawrter Katharine Hepburn. The last step sing of the year is held on this night." My understanding was that Bryn Mawr had been doing the maypole celebrations since March 1900. I did not know about Simmons, but found on the internet that 2012 marked its 100th year of the maypole tradition. It appears both answers might be correct -- Bryn Mawr's celebration started earlier, but was not an annual event all that time. Simmons started about 12 years later but appears to have been an annual event for longer.

  4. Pam: Your post and mention of the protesters maybe throwing a stone, but otherwise being unarmed made me think about Kent State where a similar incident took place on May 4, 1970 -- 43 years before yesterday's post here. Four dead in Ohio. :-(