Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (July 12, 2014)

Here are a few recommendations for possible inclusion on your reading list this weekend:  

1.  Dawn Westfall at Wisteria blog posted a truly awesome and beautiful four -generation matrilineal family portrait this past Mother's Day.  If you have not seen it previously, it is definitely worth viewing.  It is very creative and actually involves five generations.  To see the portrait and learn about how the fifth generation participated, go here.
2.  Have you ever heard that an ancestor or relative of yours was a "Breaker Boy?"  To find out who Breaker Boys were and what they did, have a look at the amazing photographs and explanation here.  

3.  Now there is a hugely valuable and useful tool for those who simply love maps and for genealogists who want a resource to locate historic layouts of cities.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS linked to this news item that the entire catalog of USGS topographical surveys dating back to 1884 is now available in one place on line -- more than 178,000 maps that are searchable by city! You can go directly to the USGS "Historical Topographic Map Explorer" here.   Enjoy!

4.  Here is a wonderful story of family history involving WWI, loss, discovery and the amazing return
of a family relic 95 years after the fact. It is well worth the read for the story itself and for the tantalizing tidbits of family history and coincidence woven into the tale.  [This is another Story of Interest found and posted in The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS, so if you have thought about joining NEHGS these finds are another reason to do so and to regularly read The Weekly Genealogist!]

5.  UpFront With NGS has an interesting post about obsolete technology and the problem of preserving or losing the data that is stored on old media via old technology.  Check it out here.

6.  And on the other side of the technology coin is the rise and continued refinement of automated research techniques and technologies in genealogy -- robotic genealogy if you will. Harold Henderson of Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog muses thoughtfully on the subject here.

7.  The website/blog Wait But Why has just turned 1 year old -- and it sure is precocious for a pre-toddler! It is not devoted to genealogy, but it has had posts that relate to genealogy and provide food for thought to genealogists.  I find it a very creative and stimulating, often cheekily irreverent, but always entertaining and informative.  Happy Birthday Wait But Why

8.  One of the most used databases by American genealogists is the the U.S. Census.  Ever wonder how the Census was done in earlier decades?  Well, the National Archives has a set of photographs depicting the taking and processing of the 1940 Census and The Vault has provided a selection of some and links to others here.  Have a look.             
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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  1. Happy Saturday, John. I've read most of these, and I'll hit the others later on today. I particularly enjoy maps, all sorts of maps, from long ago to now. Always enjoy your Saturday posts. Cheers.

    1. Thank you Celia. Comments like yours is what keeps Saturday Serendipity going! ;-)

  2. That USGS map site is great. Thanks for sharing that.

    1. My pleasure Elise.

      If by chance you should develop a little neighborhood map project of your own, please let me know as I would like to do a post (and perhaps a continuing series of update posts) of any neighbor identification maps that other folks might develop and put on their blogs. I truly think this could become a sort of database to keep alive the information of what families lived where. I think local directories giving names and addresses are useful, but if that information can be actually shown on period maps from USGS, then even as street and neighborhoods change and come and go, we will have a record of who lived where at a given point in time. This could be very interesting and useful in the future. Of course, family surnames might not be enough, so if the surnames can be supplemented with first names of family members residing at given locations, so much the better.