Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (March 15, 2014) -- Be Aware of the Ides of March!

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 recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this week .  .  .  

1.  What were they thinking?  Weren't they looking when they shot that photograph? Is that supposed to be creative and artistic? We probably have all committed a family photograph faux pas at one point or another. The website Awkward Family Photos gives people a place to share these moments and to make the rest of us laugh, cry, and cringe as we pray we never have one of our family shots posted here.  Have a look and enjoy (secretly).    
2.  Recently I posted a book recommendation (Posterity by Dorie McCullough Lawson) about the importance of writing letters to our posterity. Just a few days ago I came across a wonderful example of a letter from a grandfather to his 4-year-old grandson.  You really must read this humorous letter of love from a grandfather to his grandson on his 4th birthday.  You can see the handwritten 1945 letter at "This I Leave" blog by Donna Catterick. 

3.  Two items of note from The Vault this week: (1) personal ads looking for marriageable men and women in "The Water-Cure Journal" back in the mid-1800s spotlight 19th century vegetarians looking for potential spouses; and (2)  Mark Twain's recommended reading lists for boys and girls along with a list of his own favorite books.

4.  If you have seen or want to see the film "Twelve Years A Slave," then you should meet the historian who found and preserved the true story on which it is based.  Read here the New Yorker article about Sue Eakin who died in 2009 at age ninety.       

5.  The United States Coast Survey produced a map of the slaveholding states based on the Census of 1860. The maps were later sold to benefit the sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army and it was a favorite map of Abraham Lincoln.  He consulted it repeatedly and the map can even be seen in a famous 1864 painting of the President with his cabinet. You can see the map here

6.  I think genealogists are collectors by nature -- and their descendants, relatives, and others are very often glad they are (even if they used to talk about "Old Uncle Wilbur the Pack Rat"). There are several in the genealogy blogosphere who have shared their collections (Heather Rojo's weathervanes; Jana Last's postcard collection, are just two examples) and who knows how those collections might prove useful to grateful folks in the future. But these and other such collections simply pale by comparison to the truly awesome and amazing collection amassed over thirty-five years by Marion Stokes, a former librarian in the Philadelphia area.  You have to read this article to believe that such a collection exists and that it was assembled by a private citizen. You MUST check  out the nature and extent of Marion's collection here

7.  With St. Patrick's Day only two days away, those with Irish roots might want to devote some time on Monday to perusing the new database from the Irish Genealogical Research Society.  Based on the content of IGRS's annual journal, The Irish Genealogist, going back to 1937, a searchable database containing over 250,000 names related to information in wills, deeds, voter lists, etc. is now available on line here.     

8.  And finally, since today is March 15th -- the Ides of March -- perhaps we might all find it interesting (with apologies to Shakespeare) to not just "beware the Ides of March," but for today to  "be aware of the Ides of March" and discover what the Ides is all about.  March 15th is not simply the day in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar was assassinated. It was also a day of religious observances on the Roman calendar. Read here what the Ides actually is, how it relates to the Nones and the Kalends, and discover if every month has an Ides on the 15th day of the month.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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  1. John,

    Thank you very much for mentioning my Grandpa's Postcards blog! I really am grateful to my grandparents for collecting and saving these postcards from their travels. Have a great weekend and thanks again!

  2. Wow. A fabulous post, John. I've read all but one of these, so I'm headed off to the last on your list. Fantastic. I appreciate your recommendations so much. Thank you!
    Although I do have to admit that before I clicked on the G+ link, I could hear Wayne & Shuster's TV skit about Caesar's murder on the Ides of March (from Rinse the Blood off my Toga) rolling around in my head, making me smile... Ah well. The sublime to the ridiculous.