Monday, August 3, 2009

Methodology Monday with Stefani Evans and Alletta Sadler

Does a genealogist really need to read "Class Formation in Nineteenth-Century America: The Case of the Middle Class" from a 1993 issue of the Annual Review of Sociology? Or The Middling Sorts: Explorations in the History of the American Middle Class (2001) by Burton J. Bledstein and Robert D. Johnston?

Hint: The third footnote in the second article in this month's National Genealogical Society Quarterly cites these two publications and four more like them.

Knowing the workings of class divisions in eighteenth-century America helped Stefani Evans, CG, to identify two of Alathea "Alletta" Sadler's children in New York City and Poughkeepsie when no records of any kind did so. (Between them they went on to have 21 children, so there's genealogical significance here.) Her husbands, their associates, and her descendants were skilled artisans and craftsmen -- people who "built houses, published newspapers, crafted watches, stitched clothing, and populated cities. They employed unskilled laborers from the bottom of the social pyramid, and they sought patronage from the upper classes, who sat at the top and did not work with their hands."

IOW, "occupation" is not just a blank to fill in on some ancestral checklist, it can be a methodological tool. Join NGS and read the whole thing to find out how.

Connoisseurs of documented negative searches (hello, fellow transitional genealogists!) will like this article. The sentence, "James and Henry Sadler's numerous transactions reveal no contact with Alletta or her associates," has its own 20-line footnote in fine print documenting all the places where they didn't meet up.

And connoisseurs of "difficult" sources will enjoy seeing how Evans deals with a 1928 transcript of an alleged 1851 Bible record that includes manifest errors but also forms a part of her case. It's from the Kewanee Chapter of the DAR in Illinois.

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