Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Historian's Tale

I am officially jealous of all genealogists who haven't read the great Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. They have a thrill coming regardless of whether they have ancestors in post-Revolutionary Maine.

Not only is the book a riveting read, each chapter is preceded by the laconic workaday diary entries from which Ulrich recreated a world through research. For those working on certification, in terms of putting a bare-bones ancestor into her historical context, one could view this as the world's best kinship determination project. In my world, anyone who has written a book of this quality can die happy.

I have been a fan for a long time, but it came as news to me that Ulrich grew up Mormon in small-town Idaho, or that she came to history relatively late in life. These days she has a project reaching back to her own roots . . .

(Hat tip to History News Network.)

Harold Henderson, "A Historian's Tale," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 October 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Geolover said...

Ah, Harold, yes this book is as beautiful a read now as when published some 23 years ago. The Ballard diary is a gem, and Ulrich's work provided a fine view of the community context. This one should stand the test of time.

Jean said...

Thank you for recommending this. I just finished reading it and watching the video. What a rare treasure that diary is.