Monday, May 21, 2012

Good lessons in NGS Magazine April-June 2012

You could get a darn good genealogical education just by reading every issue of the National Genealogical Society Magazine for a few years. The lessons are readable, bite-size, and engaging. This quarter, four how-to pieces stood out for me:

* Debbie Mieszala on plagiarism and how not to commit it. BTW, although I have heard rumblings to the contrary, there is NOTHING about blogging that makes plagiarism either necessary or acceptable. By linking as well as giving credit, bloggers can if anything credit their sources more easily than pen-and-paper writers can.

* J. H. Fonkert on using newspapers to (almost literally) bring an ancestor back to life. His own grandfather provides the example. I wanted to say that this works best when the ancestor is engaged in work that actually appears in the newspaper, but we won't know until we look!

* Kathy Petlewski on immigration research, a very helpful piece with a sequel promised. I especially appreciated the discussion of oft-neglected ports of entry Galveston and New Orleans. One point I would add: the several "waves" of immigration in US history have had their roots in politics. Going back to the presidency of John Adams, changing tides of political opinion (including episodes of fear and racism) have changed the immigration laws and often determined when a "wave" of immigration began and ended. (Those waves in the pool where we research aren't natural, dude. There's a wave machine out there.)

* Patricia Walls Stamm with a solid article on research planning. I appreciate these, because this is something I struggle with on a daily basis.

I also enjoyed records-oriented pieces by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens (did you know there may be Compiled Military Service Records for your Civil War ancestor that did not get filed in his "jacket"? and how to find them?), Bryna O'Sullivan on using Confederate pension applications in African-American genealogy, and Harold Hinds on autograph books, yet another underused genealogical resource.

This magazine alone is worth NGS's annual dues -- and as readers here know, NGS offers many other benefits as well!

All in NGS Magazine, vol. 38, no. 2 (April-June 2012):
Debbie Mieszala, "Stop, thief! A plagiarism primer," 17-20.
J. H. Fonkert, "The threshing engine: Newspapers breathe life into a photo," 25-31.
Kathy Petlewski, "Reference Desk: An overview of immigration records," 48-53.
Patricia Walls Stamm, "Targeted Research Plans," 44-47.

Harold Henderson, "Good lessons in NGS Magazine April-June 2012," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 21 May 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Dawn Watson said...

This was a particularly good issue (although none are ever bad). I was especially pleased to see Jay Fonkert's article on using newspapers to fill in missing details of an ancestor's life. Newspapers can offer so much more than BMDs. I hope Jay's search for information on his grandfather will help enlighten others.