Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (September 27, 2014)

The following are recommended for inclusion on your reading list this weekend: 

1.     And so they should! NEHGS recently got a shout out on Face The Nation when host Bob Schieffer asked documentarian Ken Burns, who just had his 14-hour opus on The Roosevelts aired on PBS, about his relationship to the Roosevelts.  Mr. Burns replied that he first learned he was related to the Roosevelts when NEHGS gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 that was accompanied by a professional rendering of his genealogy.  Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of The Bully Pulpit (about Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft) and No Ordinary Time (about FDR and Eleanor), was also on the same show and explained that she too learned of her relationship to Sarah Delano Roosevelt when she received the same award from NEHGS in 2014.  You can watch the the shout out here.            

2.     Don't just discover your family history -- create it! Since this will be the last Saturday Serendipity in September, now is a good time to remind everyone that this coming week begins Family History Month, which comes around every October. In what may well be some shameless self-promotion, I would like to suggest you read my post of October 3, 2013 "Family History -- Memorializing Your Personal Experience of Big Events" and then resolve to take the time during October to write down some piece of history you experienced so your personal observations and emotions can be preserved for your descendants. You can see my most recent such effort here where I posted my personal experience of 9-11 as someone who was at the Washington Navy Yard on the day of the attacks. [If you take on this challenge in October, please post your writing on your blog if you have one and indicate it is your contribution to creating family history for your descendants during Family History Month 2014!]             

3.     The weekly survey that NEHGS runs in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter asked about the role of luck in genealogy research. This week there is a moving story in the Concord Monitor out of Concord, NH (where I lived for a few years in the 1960s) about a family's search for roots in Germany. The story wonderfully illustrates how great a little serendipity and luck can be.  Read the story and see some photos here.             

4.     Like many, I have a commute to and from work that is, frankly, ridiculous. Increasingly I ponder how much I hate the daily grind of it -- and while it leads me to ponder retirement more and more frequently, it also led me to wonder about the commutes of my ancestors and relatives.  Did they even have what would be considered in modern terms a "commute" to work?  And then I came across this piece at The Vault about a truly different and amazing commute by a group of employees at the CIA.  Have a read here.            

5.     If genealogy has some Holy Grail of ultimate discovery, it just might be the revelation of a commonality we all share. Well, Tim Urban at Wait By Why blog did not go on an intentional quest for such a Holy Grail, but he did do a world travel series and in each country he visited he asked people he met the "Genie Question."  "If you had a genie and were granted three wishes, what would you wish for?"  It turns out that we humans have a lot in common when it comes to answering the Genie Question.  You can watch a 5 minute 58 second video to see that we truly are more alike than different. Just go here  

6.     Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots blog has been continuing her series on Lowell, Massachusetts -- "There's A Lot To Like About Lowell!"  I dare you to look at Barbara's photo tour of Lowell and not want to visit this city next spring or summer!

7.     One often hears in genealogy, "You never know where you might find a new source of information for your family research."  This oft repeated adage came immediately to mind when I saw yesterday's post on the Holyoke, Mass blog.  Anyone looking for information -- and a photograph -- for Edward P. Griffin of Holyoke from just over 100 years ago, would probably not think to consult the monthly trade journal The Carpenter published by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.  You can read here why the March 1913 issue of The Carpenter would be a very fruitful (and perhaps disturbing) source of family history for any descendants of Mr. Griffin.

8.     Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog, provided an example -- and a humorous one at that -- of unusual bits of family history that can now be found through modern research tools like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and access to the web.  Read here Nancy's story of discovery of new humorous details about the character that was her  great grandfather, Henry Meinzen.

9.     Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog provides a very useful and informative review of  genealogy applications that have synchronization capability and mobile apps.  You can see his review here .

10.     If you use any of the family of Ancestry websites, then you REALLY should read Judy Russell's review of the change in Ancestry's Terms of Use for its three websites.  As always, The Legal Genealogist (the #1 Rockstar Genealogist for 2014!) has our back in delving into the details of the terms and pointing out the pitfalls and areas of concern.  Read Judy's review here. 

11.     UpFront With NGS blog had an interesting post on Banned Books Week, which takes place the last week of September each year. You can read the post and follow the links to lists of books that have been challenged or banned here. How many of these "dangerous" books you have read?  [I have read at least 24 of the 97 books on the list of 97 classic books that have been challenged or banned and 23 of the books on the list of books banned by various govenrments (with some duplication between the lists).]

12.     And finally (to end where this week's Saturday Serendipity began), if you have seen Ken Burns' latest documentary opus, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, you have a renewed appreciation for the influence the three most prominent members of this family had on American history in the 20th Century.  So how cool would it be to discover your own family's connection to one of the three highlighted Roosevelts?  Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky blog has an interesting and well-documented post that does just that.  Go here to see the story.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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  1. Thank you for mentioning my post, John, and for highlighting the other interesting posts, too.

  2. Thanks for mention of my post noting my connection to FDR. And everyone really should find the time to watch some of the Roosevelt documentary - I thought it was great.

  3. I'm glad you caught Carol Robidoux's story about her genea-jaunt to Germany. I used to write the genealogy column for Carol when she was the editor for the Nashua, NH Patch website. She now has a new website for Manchester and is free lancing for other local newspapers.

  4. I'm a banned-book lover - I counted over 40 that I'd read. What a great mixed group of posts, John. Loved the canoe-commute - I think those are people who have a little bit more adventure in their souls than the average!