Monday, January 25, 2010

Methodology Monday: another look at "mug books"

Those old county histories have always been a bit dodgy sources for genealogy -- requiring vigilance at least, and a realization that they left out those who couldn't afford listing -- but there is also good reason not to take their history without several grains of salt.

A new book from the University of Minnesota Press (not seen by me, said to be due out in March or April) goes into this in some detail. In Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England, historian Jean M. O'Brien drew on "more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island written between 1820 and 1880" whose authors "insisted, often in mournful tones, that New England's original inhabitants, the Indians, had become extinct, even though many Indians still lived in the very towns being chronicled."

1 comment:

Sheryl Trudgian Jones said...

This should be interesting to read. I think Galena, IL was doing the same thing in the early 1900's. Lillian writes about seeing "Indians" and several of my readers insist that there were no "Indians" in Galena as far back as 1854!