Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Local Laws in Indiana on line, a sampling

We think of laws as general and impersonal, but legislatures also pass "private" or "local" laws directed to individuals or localities -- sometimes fairly routine, sometimes to redress injustices. These private laws were more common in earlier days and in Indiana are preserved in books published for each session of the General Assembly. Some are on line, some not -- but in either case the titling and cataloging are irregular. Many libraries catalog them as serials. Since the legislature began meeting in December and carried over into the next year, dating can be an issue. GoogleBooks makes its online copies rather hard to find. I have located six years there, 1843-1847 and 1850.

La Porte County, Indiana, is mentioned 30 times in these six books, an average of five items per year. They included:

* a few divorces,

* a few cases of aliens who owned and sold land,

* several incorporations of local institutions and businesses, usually naming the directors,

* some road authorizations with names of commissioners and directions (“on as straight a line as the nature of the ground will admit of”), and

* some routine, or just plain weird. I'm still scratching my head over the county commissioners' being authorized "to make John Johnson, of said county, the same allowance for the arrest of a horse thief, calling himself John Johnson, as they might have made if said horse thief had been convicted of said crime.”

Full details and access instructions if you get stuck are over at Midwest Roots.

In addition to looking for particular people, these books can be used as a kind of on-the-scene history, a bit like the "annuals" that encyclopedias used to publish. Names of businesses and institutions changed over time, and often the hardest part of researching people connected with them is figuring out what they were called at the time. So it may be helpful to know that in 1846 the legislature amended the charter of La Porte University so that its medical school would be known as Indiana Medical College. Those institutions are long gone but they were significant in early Midwest medical education.

Local histories tend to focus on those enterprises and individuals that succeeded and stuck around; the lawmakers didn't know the future, so this is a place to look for a "clay turnpike company," plank roads, and off-brand railroads that may have never run a train. History is often written by the winners; genealogy is written by everybody.

Two useful sets of information from this source in Indiana have been extracted, indexed, and published:

Malinda E. E. Newhard, Name Changes Granted by the Indiana General Assembly Prior to 1852 (Harlan, IN: author, 1981)

Malinda E. E. Newhard, Divorces Granted by the Indiana General Assembly Prior to 1852 (Harlan, IN: author, 1981). Note that in some cases the General Assembly actually granted the divorce, and in others it authorized the filing of a court case locally.

Newhard cited General Laws 1817-1851, Local Laws 1835-1851, and Special Laws 1818, 1824, and 1831.

Plank road scrip illustration from Sellitstore (http://sellitstore.ecrater.com/p/9628689/michigan-city-union-plank-road# : accessed 28 July 2012), where the bill once said to be worth $5 was for sale for $125.

Harold Henderson, "Local Laws in Indiana on line, a sampling," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 31 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, July 30, 2012

Jenny Lind, Elvis Presley, and the Evolution of Property in the US

UCLA law professor Stuart Banner has written American Property, a lively, smart history of how some things have quit being property (human beings, public office, and commons, for instance) and others have become property over the past 300+ years. New forms of property include fame/privacy (your picture), news, certain pollution rights, the electromagnetic spectrum, and many living things.

I think its main value for genealogists lies in seeing how property changes historically, and not in the way we might think. Non-physical property was well understood long ago; physical items like transplantable organs have only recently become in some cases quasi-property. And the changes are usually driven by technology, wealth, politics, and popularity, not legal theory or idealism. And if you want up-to-date, in the final chapter, Banner debunks the idea that information wants to be free.

So I view this as kind of a back-door history that tells us once again, from another angle, how much the past is another country. "Jenny Lind had toured the country in the 1850s without profiting from the sale of Jenny Lind merchandise, but when Elvis Presley toured the country in the 1950s, he likely earned more from licensing fees than from ticket sales." Lind's agent, P. T. Barnum, was fine with unauthorized Lind merchandise, which was just as well since there was no way for him to stop it. Elvis's agent, on the other hand, took unauthorized Elvis purveyors to court and never lost a case. {155} About the same time (mid-19th century), "goodwill" as a business asset and a form of property also came into its own. {38-39}

Stuart Banner, American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011)

Harold Henderson, "Jenny Lind, Elvis Presley, and the Evolution of Property in the US," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekend Writing: Stop the Zombie Nouns!

If the reader can't figure out what action is taking place, then the writer has fallen into a pit. Always. So following Helen Sword's advice in this New York Times article can greatly improve our writing.

Do you have trouble spotting zombie nouns? Just look for those ending in "tion." Or look for weak linking verbs ("be," "is," "was," "are," "were" when used without other verbs), and rewrite the sentence using real active verbs. The act of doing so forces us to understand the reality, just as having to cite our sources forces us to understand them. (Linking verbs do have their place -- in this sentence and the next, for instance -- but it is not all over every page of our writing.)

Sword refers back to George Orwell, one of the very best 20th-century writers, showing that, like other kinds of zombies, this problem has proven very difficult to kill.

Hat tip to 3 Quarks Daily.

ADDED 6 PM CST SUNDAY: If you're interested, I'll be leading an APG online discussion on writing Tuesday at 9 PM EDT, 8 PM CDT. BYOQ (Bring Your Own Questions). First come, first served, limit 25: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/join/128858424, access code 128-858-424.

Helen Sword, "Zombie Nouns," Opinionator, New York Times (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/zombie-nouns : accessed 25 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Writing: Stop the Zombie Nouns!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 29 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Saturday, July 28, 2012

All the Details: Grace Dumelle on Illinois State Mental Hospital Records

Grace Dumelle -- author, house historian, and Newberry librarian -- has just the sort of very thorough post on the Newberry blog that genealogists love. That goes double for genealogists with research targets who were in the Illinois state mental health hospital system.

Grace Dumelle, "Help in Accessing Closed Records of Illinois State Mental Hospitals," The Newberry Genealogy Blog, 26 July 2012 (http://www.newberry.org/help-accessing-closed-records-illinois-state-mental-hospitals : accessed 28 July 2012).

Weekend Wonderings: What Would You Write About?

Suppose, just hypothetically, that you were tapped (or inspired) to write a blog post every few months on "The State of the Profession" of genealogy.

What would you write about? What stories or numbers would you seek out? Who would you interview? Would you focus on scholarship? education? advocacy? money? TV shows?

Or would you firmly turn away and not do it?

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Wonderings: What Would You Write About?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 28 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, July 27, 2012

Get Out of That Rut!

 Archives.com has just posted my article, "Ten Little Known Indiana Records," but the truth is that these sources are little-known, and underused, everywhere! My examples come from the Hoosier State but most of these records exist elsewhere. If I were rewriting that article today I would probably shoehorn in a mention of "local laws" from the 19th century as another example.

Genealogy learning is a constant alternation between learning about new (to us) sources, and learning new ways to use them (methodology). We need to keep doing both in order to keep growing.

 Harold Henderson, "Little Known Indiana Records," Archives.com (http://www.archives.com/experts/henderson-harold/indiana-records.html : accessed 26 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "Get Out of That Rut!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 27 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Can I Prove My Mom?

Does genealogy enable you to prove who your parents were (let alone anyone else's)? Well, to coin a phrase, it depends.

(1) "Proof" in genealogy is not like "proof" in mathematics. If I had the power to re-boot genealogy from the beginning, I would abolish the word altogether and use something else, but we are stuck with it and its misleading connotations. In math, you can prove that in a right triangle the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the two other sides, and it will stay proved. In genealogy proof means, roughly, that you've looked at the relevant evidence, it all agrees (and what doesn't agree can be cogently explained away), and you've written a well-cited well-reasoned argument for your conclusion. (The more precise and thorough official version is here.) But even when you've done all that, there is no way to "prove" that some new piece of evidence will never come along and change your conclusion; that possibility always exists. (And, yes, this applies to DNA evidence too. DNA is a new and valuable tool, but it does not change genealogy into mathematics.)

(2) In real life there is biological parentage and there is social parentage. DNA speaks directly to the issue of biological parentage; other genealogical records document social parentage and usually presume (for instance) that the social children of a married couple are their biological children as well. The most marvelous manifestations of this assumption are Civil War widow's pension records, which routinely include affidavits from midwives attesting that they were present for the birth of little Johnny, and that the claiming widow was indeed his mother. (As if the midwife watched little Johnny from that day to this to see he wasn't switched!) This was an extreme attempt to get biological and social parentage to match up. They don't always, and we have to be alert to obvious and less-than-obvious clues when they don't.

Genealogy has roots in the efforts of royalty to make sure the biologically correct heir took over the crown, and later in the efforts of economic royalty to make sure the biologically correct heir took over the property or the company. This can place today's adoptees, foster children, and others in an anomalous position -- often causing them to dismiss genealogy and lineage societies altogether, or to stay in the fold and become vigorous dissenters from the "tradition" by which biological children take precedence. I can't settle this argument, but a little modesty about how well we can prove biological connectedness is surely in order.

If it's all about who we are, then nature and nurture both play a part. If the same people provided both, OK. If one set of people provided the nature and another set provided the nurture, then from a historical and personal point of view they are both important and both should be traced. (In my opinion those lineage societies who disallow adoptees have some 'splainin' to do.) We can't change the past, but we can deal with it.

Harold Henderson, "How Can I Prove My Mom?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 26 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Archaeology: Your Ancestors' Artifacts

Last week on the genealogy librarians' list, members briefly discussed the potential value of archaeology books to their collections. The talk went on just long enough to remind me of one of my favorite crossover books, Robert Mazrim's The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln.

"Archaeology," he writes, "has a peculiar ability to enhance and also to challenge the written word, to uncover the little aspects of daily lifelong since passed. It also returns an authentic ghostliness to a landscape so flattened by the plow and by pavement." {3}

One not-so-little aspect uncovered by archaeology digs in frontier Illinois sites is that the early settlers 200 years ago were surprisingly well connected to urban centers of trade in the east and in Europe. "Objects discarded during the very first years of the territory include not only gunflints, knife blades, and butchered deer remains" -- all of which we might expect -- "but also English teacups, brass vest buttons, and French wine bottles." {96} These pioneers were not soloing in the wilderness; they were accompanied by families and tied back to civilization.

Robert Mazrim, The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Harold Henderson, "Archaeology: Your Ancestors' Artifacts," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 25 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get a GRIP and Go Read Another Blog!

 I have been well educated and nurtured and networked at the Salt Lake Institute and at Samford Library's IGHR, but there's a special place in my heart for the new kid on the block . . . because it's closer to home -- all but Midwestern. The Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh opened its first session this week, and here are the three bloggers I know about who are chronicling a sliver of their experiences. Give links in the comments if you know of more!

Shelley Bishop at "A Sense of Family"

Cathi Desmarais, CG(sm) at "No Stone Unturned"

Chris Staats at "Staats Place"

Between them, they should help explain why institutes may sometimes be a better fit for your genealogical learning style than conferences, especially when you need in-depth education.

Harold Henderson, "Get a GRIP and Go Read Another Blog!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 24 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, July 23, 2012

Two Simple Things Probate Papers Can Do

Beyond wills . . . beyond the probate court books . . . there lie the handwritten papers turned in to the court. They're not just for identifying heirs or deducing the date of death. They can show where the deceased came from and which of his neighbors were friends. The estate papers of William M. Otis, who died in the summer of 1845 in La Porte County, Indiana, contain both.

One paper in his file is a judgment from a Justice of the Peace Court in Chautauqua County, New York, where he paid a $7.19 judgment on 20 June 1843.

Another lists who purchased his personal property (livestock, a sled, a double tree, and more) -- and who guaranteed that purchaser would pay. If you were wondering whether Branson Parker (who offered $5.75 for two hogs) was any kin to William D. Parker, it would be of great interest to know that William gave a note for Branson's purchases.

The first is fairly straightforward. The second can be trickier to find. Lacking a good every-name index to years of county probates, you might have to resort to checking for all the deaths within a certain distance of your research target's home.

Harold Henderson, "Two Simple Things Probate Papers Can Do," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 23 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Local, the quarterly (maybe)

Kickstarter, an on-line grass-roots "funding platform for creative projects," has a project called Local: A Quarterly of People and Places. Its funding window closes next Saturday the 28th, and it intends to be devoted to local history or perhaps what I would call microhistory: "seeking out the overlooked American narrative, chronicling one town per issue." The first issue, on Jersey Shore (Lycoming County), Pennsylvania, apparently is not yet available, but it looks gorgeous on screen.

What they say on Kickstarter: "Like traditional journalism, we do investigative pieces, humor and meditative columns, reviews, and special sections.  The difference is, we do so from a microcosmic vantage point. Think when This American Life meets National Geographic and your daily newspaper. Well, something like that."

As genealogists, we know local history and local historians. They're wonderful indispensable people, but they also have to live there. There are some stories they don't touch, some depths they don't plumb, some analyses they don't make. Maybe these folks will, if only because they get to move on after they've "done" that particular place.

There's always been a tension between locals and cosmopolitans. Sociologist Lyn C. McGregor captured it nicely in her 2010 book, Habits of the Heartland: Small-Town Life in Modern America, her participant-observer study of Viroqua (Vernon County), Wisconsin. In her view, locals may be either quiet or boosters, but they are committed to that particular place in way that even long-term "cosmopolitan" residents aren't. Cosmopolitans want certain qualities of small-town or rural life -- and if a given place fails to provide them, they will seek them elsewhere. Locals don't normally do that. (Her terminology is a little different. There's an interesting critique of the book here, but I don't think he does it justice.)

Can Local the quarterly -- evidently a cosmopolitan bunch themselves -- bridge this gap, speak to all three groups and to outsiders as well? I hope so.

Hat tip to AHA's "What We're Reading."

Lyn C. McGregor, Habits of the Heartland: Small-Town Life in Modern America (Ithaca NY:  Cornell University Press, 2010).

Harold Henderson, "Local, the quarterly (maybe)," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 22 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekend Wonderings: Debunking?

This week the New England Historic Genealogical Society email publication Weekly Genealogist (July 18, #592, not yet in the archive) reported on responses to a reader survey question: Have you ever debunked a family myth? Editor Lynn Betlock quoted one that involved a diehard relative who maintained against the evidence of the 1900 census and an obituary that a male ancestor had deserted his family.

Now that's impressive. I have an undying fascination with how people can continue to believe in the face of evidence. How do they do it?

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Wonderings: Debunking?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 21 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, July 20, 2012

Everybody's Talking about You

In a Chicago business publication Tracy Samantha Schmidt discusses how to repair and/or improve your on-line reputation. There's some food for thought (and action) here, but I have to wonder if we overlook the continuing import of old fashioned in-person gossip. Plenty of people are savvy enough not to spill the beans on Facebook; and some of the best genealogists are the most careful at expressing any untoward opinion at the wrong place or time.

And there's something, well, corporate, about one of the strategies Schmidt describes: overloading the search engines with information about you, so that any negative pieces will become buried and hard to find. Wouldn't it be wiser to act so as to deserve a good reputation, on line or off?

Schmidt does get into the substance, too. Among other things, "Everything you post online should be free of spelling and grammar errors." In genealogy world, it would also help if it was free of citation and terminology errors like "primary source." Those of us still struggling with why source documents are original or derivative, information is primary or secondary, and evidence is direct or indirect, may want to keep on lurking and check out the first two chapters of Evidence Explained. Now there's a reputation defender.

Tracy Samantha Schmidt, "How To Improve Your Personal Online Reputation," 5 July 2012, Crain's Social Media Group (http://www.crainssocial.com/article/20120705/CRAINSSOCIAL01/120709998/improving-your-personal-online-reputation : accessed 18 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "Everybody's Talking about You," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 20 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Is the Archive of Stories That Never End...

The National Archives at Chicago is a very serious repository -- no bags, no binders, no pencils, and for my money the toughest citations. It's easy to forget that it also contains enough raw story material to get a continent full of blocked novelists writing again.

Of course, that's not usually the reason we genealogists visit there. We've got specific dead people to find, not stories, but the stories often weasel their way into our negative findings. In Record Group 110, "Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau (Civil War)" for Indiana, I briefly encountered a good Civil War soldier who went to town with his buddies, got drunk, and was placed on a train to somewhere other than where his unit was. Having laboriously managed to get back home, get some money, and return to camp, he learned that the unit had been mustered out and he was listed as a deserter. (No, I don't know how it came out!) Check out this list of their record groups.

At my first national conference in 2008, I recall some archivists brought in a dried mole skin from the main office, but they could have brought almost any piece of paper, really. Another wonderful setting for a story emerged from the pension file of a thrice-married Michigan woman (obtained from the national, not a branch). She was the widow of a bona fide Civil War soldier, and married second a man who worked on sailing ships in the summers and in the woods in the winters. He died under obscure circumstances on the lake in the late 1860s -- no records. Decades later when she sought a pension, the question arose whether he was really dead. In their fruitless investigation, pension bureau employees beat the bushes up and down the western shore of Lake Michigan, looking for a handful of footloose aging men who had once worked the lakes when you could just go down to the dock and sign on to work a voyage. This was a world that had already vanished irretrievably by 1900.

Most of us live within reasonable driving distance of a regional archive, if not the big one in DC. Don't cheat yourself. Spend some time there getting acquainted with the people and the records (and the citations!). Chances are you'll find both stories and resources you never dreamed of. Check the out on line first, have a specific quest in mind, and call first.

Harold Henderson, "This Is the Archive of Stories That Never End...," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 19 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fur Trade Quarterly

This outfit is located a bit to the west of my personal definition of the Midwest, but it sounds way too good not to pass on. Would you pay good money to subscribe to a periodical called The Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly?

Well, judging from what Heather Cox Richardson says at The Historical Society, you should. The focus on daily oddments -- a particular kind of tobacco, the indispensability of cats on the frontier -- how could a genealogist or microhistorian not love it?

The museum includes material on the Great Lakes and the War of 1812. Its book-publishing arm, the Fur Press, has begun publishing a projected six-volume encyclopedia of the fur trade:

  1. Firearms of the Fur Trade (2011)
  2. Gun Accessories & Hand Weapons of the Fur Trade
  3. Tools & Utensils of the Fur Trade
  4. Clothing & Textiles of the Fur Trade (2012)
  5. Ornaments & Art Supplies of the Fur Trade
  6. Provisions of the Fur Trade (2014)
If you're in the neighborhood -- Chadron, Dawes County, Nebraska, in the far northwestern corner of the state -- check it out. Meanwhile, if you're curious but don't want to subscribe based on a second-hand testimonial, in my part of the Midwest, Worldcat.org tells us that TMFTQ is held by the following libraries: the University of Notre Dame, Chicago Public, the Newberry, Allen County (Indiana), Michigan State University, and DePauw University.

Harold Henderson, "Fur Trade Quarterly," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 17 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ultimate History Project

The Ultimate History Project calls itself  "a forum for academically trained historians to work alongside avid genealogists, independent historians, and collectors, enabling them all to collaborate and learn from one another." Clearly it grows in part from the increasing numbers of unemployed and underemployed historians.

The site is a partial-pay site, set up so that new articles are free for a time, then go behind a pay wall -- so if you keep up you can read it for free. Among my favorites in the current crop are

* an interview with National Park Service chief historian Robert Sutton about the history of Civil War anniversaries (Congress created a national Centennial Commission in 1961; no such animal today);

* a quick history of cheerleading by Allison E. Wright (women weren't allowed); and 

* a perfectly Midwestern account of ornate buildings decorated with corn murals by Kelly J. Sisson Lessens
("The goal for those who led the Corn Palace craze was to advertize their city as the next Chicago"). 

The articles are accessible, short enough to be easily read on screen, and well illustrated. They're thoughtful, but contain no reference notes (which apparently may be available on request).

I haven't seen any recognizably genealogical posts...yet. Will yours be the first?

{P. S. Next day: forgot to include a hat tip to AHA Today's "What We're Reading."}

"Remembering the Civil War: An Interview with Robert K. Sutton, PhD," The Ultimate History Project (http://www.ultimatehistoryproject.com/civil-war.html : accessed 15 July 2012).

Allison E. Wright, "Games People Played: The Elite, Masculine Origins of Cheerleading in America," The Ultimate History Project (http://www.ultimatehistoryproject.com/games-people-play-may.html : accessed 15 July 2012). 

Kelly J. Sisson Lessens, "Thoroughly Corned: Sioux City and the Making of the Nation's First Corn Palaces," The Ultimate History Project (http://www.ultimatehistoryproject.com/taste-of-history-may.html : accessed 15 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "Ultimate History Project," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 17 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, July 16, 2012


The best thing I ever did for myself as a genealogist was to attend the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and IGHR at Samford University.

The second best thing was to volunteer to abstract and index local courthouse records under the auspices of my local genealogical society.

Those two things may seem incommensurate, but they're not. No class, no course, and no brilliant instructor can substitute for hanging out with the records a few hours a week, especially when you're starting out.

I was reminded of this last week, when I was wading through 1840s-era handwriting in loose probate papers and found a relatively clear diagram drawn up by a diligent executor. He listed 19 debts owed to the estate, and for each he then listed the amount he deemed likely to be collectable. In effect, it was a credit report for a handful of individuals living in La Porte County, Indiana, in late 1844. And while the record appeared in a probate file, the people being reported on were not dead, nor were they heirs.

You could do a lot of personal and client research and not run into this kind of item. And of course such things are not readily accessible unless someone has indexed the loose papers -- or unless someone turns the courthouse upside down and shakes it by investigating associates of associates, Elizabeth Shown Mills style. (If you want an example, check out JAMB's recording of her "Margaret's Baby's Father & The Lessons He Taught Me!," presentation F-144 from FGS Philadelphia 2008 -- one of the great genealogy experiences.)

It's not the only form of continuing education, but it's a good one. And it contributes to the profession as well.

(Not that you asked, but #3 would be joining the ProGen Study Group, #4 entering the NGS writing contest, and #5 attending the best national conferences [NGS and FGS].)

Harold Henderson, "Volunteer," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 16 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Sunday, July 15, 2012

STOP Creating Former Ancestors!

If there were a single portal through which every beginning genealogist had to pass, I would plaster Dick Eastman's recent post, "Barking Up the Wrong Tree," all over its walls in a jumbo-size font.

Eastman's story is good because it's so familiar. We've all done it, and more people are doing it every day (encouraged no doubt by Ancestry.com's ignorant advertising): assume that if the name's the same, the person's the same -- and then when we later find the mistake, have to remove not only the wrong person but all the work we did on that wrong person! He asks readers, "Have you independently verified every 'fact' you have discovered? By 'independently,' I mean that you should always find a contemporary record that agrees with the first record you found."

I would add the suggestion that knowing and following the five-part Genealogical Proof Standard is a good way to avoid getting into this fix:

  • a reasonably exhaustive search;
  • complete and accurate source citations;
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion. 
The last point is just as important as the others. The end point is not entering your ancestors in a database. Will you remember the process of evidence and reasoning that got them there? Tomorrow? In a year? In a decade? What about your great-grandchildren? Writing up the conclusion is important even if you plan never to publish. Sometimes doing so is enough to uncover contradictions and uncertainties and things we forgot to look for.

Dick Eastman, "Barking up the Wrong Tree,"Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 14 July 2012, http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2012/07/barking-up-the-wrong-tree.html

Harold Henderson, "STOP Creating Former Ancestors!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 15 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weekend Wonderings: Taking Notes

This past week there was a bit of discussion on the Transitional Genealogists Forum about note-taking, especially at conference lectures. Do you take notes at all? With pen and paper? On a laptop or tablet or phone?

Does other peoples' electronic note-taking bother you, either as a listener or as a speaker?

I find myself splitting the difference. Sometimes I take notes the old-fashioned way, but they are often illegible. Sometimes I'm the guy at the side of the room using one of the very few electric sockets. Either way, I need to find a way to reunite the notes with the syllabus, and a way to locate them both again when that topic arises in my work and I need to double-check the six crucial steps in tracking down a War of 1812 veteran!

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Wonderings: Taking Notes," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 14 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mything the Point of the Past

Louis Menand of Harvard corrects a bit of TV-journalism mythmaking in the New Yorker and reflects:

People in any profession like to create an imaginary past, populated by the Ones Who Came Before. Sometimes, we figure these people to be narrow-minded fools and feel motivated to demonstrate our own superior tolerance and sophistication. More honorably, if not necessarily more accurately, we imagine our predecessors as nobler and braver than our small and anxious selves -- as men and women who stood up for principle . . . 
I have seen this happen in some literature in the fields of urban planning and education. I reckon this commentary could apply to genealogy as well, and often to our use of history in general, not just the history of a profession.

Was some part of our past a Golden Age? Or an Age of Dunces and Midgets? Any history that fits either plot may make a riveting story, but it has probably (at best) omitted a lot of interesting information. Like our own lives, the real past is usually more mixed and confusing than makes us comfortable.

Louis Menand, "Seeing It Now: Walter Cronkite and the legend of CBS News," The New Yorker, 9 & 16 July 2012, 88-94.

Harold Henderson, "Mything the Point of the Past," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 13 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be Kind to the Newbies

It can be hard for us to remember what it was like to be a stranger in the strange land of genealogy. We may think that because we've talked about "abstracting records" 100 times, that the 101st person knows what we're talking about.

And by "us" I mean everybody, from active professionals to those whose main involvement is to attend their local society meetings.

Many local societies are composed of old friends. I once attended a small society meeting with another newcomer. We were invited to introduce ourselves and did so; no one else did, and the meeting went on. It wasn't being mean, just oblivious.

After one talk that I thought had been carefully pitched to beginners, an attendee asked, "What is this DAR you were talking about?"

Professionals can be annoyed or annoying in their own ways. I'm always a bit surprised that some Hoosiers aren't acquainted with the Indiana Genealogical Society's wonderful county-by-county research information pages. Another pet peeve is hearing from folks who want to resolve conflicting information about an ancestor's birth or death date -- without saying where either piece of information came from!

But we all had to learn that sometime; now it's our turn to teach in a friendly way -- forever. Showing irritation is ungracious, bad business practice (for professionals), and just plain counterproductive for the good of genealogy. Just as we are committed to our own continuing education, we have to be committed to providing accessible education for the never-ending stream of hopeful newcomers who may kindly reply "Bless you!" when you first speak the word "Ahenentafel."

Harold Henderson, "Be Kind to the Newbies," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 12 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Two Simple Things Deeds Can Do

They can connect a common-name person in one place to another:

In 1840, Harry Porter "of Farmington, Fulton County, Illinois," sold property in Clarkson, Monroe County, New York, where he had lived for almost twenty years before heading west. This contemporary record confirms other records left at much later dates by his descendants.

They can provide evidence of death in times and places where vital records are scarce:

In 1823, Oliver Lee sold part of lot 29 in the Town of Warsaw, Genesee County, New York, to Matthew Hoffman. It was described as "beginning at a stake in the north line of Land owned by Chauncey L. Sheldon..." Nine years later, when Hoffman sold the same land to Isaac C. Bronson, it was described as "beginning at a stake in the north line of land owned by the late Chauncey L. Sheldon deceased..."

In this case, the deeds' information can be confirmed. Dr. Chauncey L. Sheldon has a beautiful and well-preserved 1828 gravestone in the Warsaw Pioneer Cemetery. It's documented and imaged on Find A Grave -- along with other unsourced material that does not appear on the stone. Since 1841 the graveyard has been in Wyoming County, New York, but when Chauncey died it wasn't.

Confirmation doesn't mean the deeds are unnecessary. No important genealogical conclusion should rest on a single piece of information, any more than a chair should have only one leg.

Monroe County, New York, Deeds 52:174, Porter to True, 28 August 1840; County Clerk, Rochester

Genesee County, New York, Deeds 18:501, Lee to Hoffman 24 November 1823, and Hoffman to Bronson 31 October 1832; County Clerk, Batavia.

Harold Henderson, "Two Simple Things Deeds Can Do," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 11 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Can genealogy be sold as "fun"?

Prolific geneablogger James Tanner at Genealogy's Star:

Attempts to involve the masses in genealogy because it is fun and easy will fail simply because it is neither. "Fun" is an elusive word. I like satisfying, fulfilling, challenging, inspirational, intriguing and other terms a lot more than fun. Hard work is not "fun" by definition and genealogy is hard work.
Read the whole thing -- there's a lot more. It's an in-depth post.

Still, my first thought was, tell that to Ancestry.com. Maybe "fail" is an elusive word too!

What little I have heard of Ancestry's official position is that genealogy has to be accessible first of all (hence those awful "You don't need to know what you're looking for" commercials). That is a reasonable point. For sure I wouldn't start a beginners' class by trying to explain the layer upon layer of indirect evidence in Tom Jones's "Inferential Genealogy" (talk F-95 at Philadelphia FGS).

Perhaps the sophisticated marketing view is that if enough people are attracted to genealogy by superficial promises, then some will stay long enough to get hooked on the hard work, and to keep ACOM stock on the move. What do the marketing pros think?

James Tanner, "Some basic principles of genealogy," Genealogy's Star, posted 8 July 2012 (http://genealogysstar.blogspot.com : accessed 9 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "Can genealogy be sold as 'fun'?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 10 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, July 9, 2012

History teaches no lessons

Genealogists tap into history all the time, whether we know it or not. (Not mentioning historical context at all implies that we think it was irrelevant.) The problem is that few of us have professional-level historical knowledge that would enable us to pick the best to read and remember. Stanford historian Jack Rakove offers us one rough cut in an aside while reviewing Michael Lind's Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States in The New Republic.

My paraphrase: Be skeptical of any writer, popular or erudite, who claims that "history" or a particular historical episode offers a clear-cut lesson for a present dilemma. He or she is probably oversimplifying matters at best. 

Rakove himself:

Historians hate [the idea of "lessons from history"] for many reasons, not least because they defy the underlying fundamental premise of historical thinking: that we study the past not merely to understand how the present emerged from it, which is the simpler part of our work, but more importantly, because it was so different from what we have become.
In the special case of the founders of our Republic, nothing could be zanier than naïvely assuming that we can pluck Hamilton or Jefferson or Madison or Franklin from their era, plop them down in ours, and apply their wisdom to our problems. The absurdity lies in this: the founders were deeply empirical in their thinking, deeply responsive to their experiences and observations, and deeply aware of the contingencies under which they acted.

Jack Rakove, "Hamilton? Jefferson?," 3 July 2012, The New Republic; digital image (http://www.tnr.com/book/review/land-promise-michael-lind : accessed 9 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "History teaches no lessons," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 9 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How Harry Porter's first deed was recorded in a county he had nothing to do with: Beware peripheral vision!

Last week I spent some time focusing on Harry Porter, the husband of my mother-in-law's great-grand aunt Elizabeth Bassett. Back in 2009 he had only been in my genealogical "peripheral vision." In other words, my interest in him had extended only to his relationship to another (non-problematic) relative. He wasn't crucial to that project, but I was just interested enough at the time to jot down the book and page numbers for his property transactions, as recorded in Orleans and Monroe Counties, New York.

Now that I'm focusing on him, I went back and copied and read the deeds themselves. What a revelation! I had always wondered what he'd been doing in Orleans County in 1825 when he never showed up there again.

Well, he was never there. That deed was made in 1819, when Harry bought 1.5 acres in the Town of Murray in Genesee County. Later that year, the Town of Clarkson was split off from the Town of Murray. In 1821, the Town of Clarkson and more was taken from Genesee County and went into the making of Monroe County. In 1824, Orleans County was split off from Genesee County, taking with it the smaller Town of Murray. Harry and his family lived for the next 15-20 years in Clarkson, where he'd made his first land purchase and where all his later land dealings took place as far as I know.

(If you're getting dizzy, take the map cure. For the county part of these boundary changes, check out the maps at the on-line Atlas of Historical County Boundaries from Chicago's Newberry Library.)

In 1854, some diligent person from Orleans County went down to Batavia (the Genesee County seat) and laboriously copied out by hand every pre-1824 deed recorded in the area that later became Orleans County -- or what he thought was the area. The Town of Murray was in Orleans County in 1854, of course, but not the part of it that became Clarkson. So Harry's 1819 deed was erroneously re-recorded in Orleans County after the fact, in Deed Book A.

Fortunately, the book was labeled properly and the recopied deed included mention of the book and page in Genesee County records. Even more fortunately, when I in turn went to Batavia, I was pleased to find that the original 1819 recording of the deed was far more legible than the 1854 copy!

The rewards of going to the original just keep coming.

Harold Henderson, "How Harry Porter's first deed was recorded in a county he had nothing to do with: Beware peripheral vision!," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 8 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Weekend wonderings: Is genealogy patriotic?

I see some tension between genealogy and patriotism, since genealogy is mainly about families.
And of course relatives have a way of crossing national lines and taking up arms with Tecumseh or Loyalists or Confederates or Viet Cong.

To the extent that genealogy is about the nation(s) ancestors lived in and fought for, no nation that I am aware of deserves uncritical admiration. Understanding and analysis and respect, yes. But not the kind of patriotism that led the DAR to blackball Jane Addams in the 1920s -- more like the kind that now includes her in their on-line hall of fame of "Dazzling Daughters."

The issue is difficult because genealogy also has roots in the desire to idolize our forebears and make their stories pretty prologues leading to the wonderful climax which is us. My great-great-grandfather's first cousin, Walter Thrall -- an Ohio probate judge and early genealogist -- seems to have taken this view. He wrote, We should cherish with grateful recollection the memory of parents, and follow their good advice and example, forgetting their foibles and errors [emphasis added]” -- a viewpoint that does not sit well with the objectivity demanded by today's Genealogical Proof Standard

Obviously this is a personal question to which everyone may have a different answer. What's yours?

James Weber Linn, Jane Addams: A Biography (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), 214; searchable on Google Books.

Walter Thrall, ed. Edward G. Randall, Genealogy of the Thrall Family, also of the Rose Family, to the Year 1862 (Poultney, VT: Randall Brothers, 1890), 4; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2012).

Harold Henderson, "Weekend Wonderings: Is Genealogy Patriotic?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 7 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chicago Fountains and Families

"I only know one person who became the matriarch of a family at age 24," writes Angela F. Cathey McGhee in the Spring 2012 Chicago Genealogist. The article is her work-in-progress account of her grandmother Mabel (Jordan) Cathey (1885-1970) and family. It's well-documented (with footnotes, not endnotes, thank you!) and well contextualized, and a reminder that we don't have to be done with our research in order to publish it. This is the kind of article that every local, state, and regional quarterly editor needs to be soliciting and encouraging, because publishing lists, indexes, and databases on paper wastes both time and trees.

The Spring 2012 Chicago History includes two lengthy articles on topics of genealogical interest as well:

* Leslie Coburn chronicles the development of public water fountains in Chicago -- a kind of public utility that served humans, horses, and dogs -- while furthering the causes of temperance and kindness to animals.

* Rosalyn R. LaPier and David R. M. Beck give short accounts of eight not-well-enough-known American Indians in Chicago 1890-1940: Potawatomi leader Simon Pokagon, physician Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai), anthropologist William Jones (Fox), athletic director Francis Cayou (Omaha), businessman Scott Henry Peters (Chippewa), opera singer Tsianina Blackstone (Cherokee), baseball player Charles Albert Bender (Ojibwe), and entertainer Evelyn "Billie" Frechette (Menominee). Even when overt racism was not involved, they all lived in the crosshairs of contradiction, needing both to succeed in an overwhelmingly white world and to affirm their own culture and roots.

Angela F. Cathey McGhee, "Building a Chicago Family: The Cathey Group," Chicago Genealogist 44, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 95-101.

Leslie Coburn, "The Water Question," Chicago History 38, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 4-21.

Rosalyn R. LaPier and David R. M. Beck, "Crossroads for a Culture," Chicago History 38, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 22-43.

Harold Henderson, "Chicago Fountains and Families," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 6 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Editing as Interest-Based Bargaining

Thanks to Evidence Explained, I just came across this take on the editor-writer relationship from Carol Fisher Saller of the University of Chicago Press:

A good author-editor relationship involves working with the writer in ways that will tell you what he really wants so you can help him achieve it. A great deal of the time, you’ll find that what the writer wants, you want, too. And if you’re skilled, the writer will discover that he wants most of the same things you do.
That's from the introduction to her book, The Subversive Copy Editor (which I have not seen the rest of). But it rang a bell: the 1981 classic Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury.

In any setting, creative negotiation need not be a zero-sum game or compromise that dissatisfies both sides. It involves listening, asking questions, and inventing alternatives that speak to both sides' interests (as opposed to stated opening positions). But I had never thought of editing this way.

Carol Fisher Saller, The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Roger Fisher and William L. Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, second edition (New York: Penguin, 1991).

Harold Henderson, "Editing as Interest-Based Barganing," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 5 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Timothy Bush (1735?-1815?) and Descendants in The Genealogist

Michael Thomas Meggison and R. Andrew Pierce have given the fullest account yet of the prolific family that gave rise to the two US Presidents Bush, in a 73-page article spread across the three most recent issues of The Genealogist. Unpublished work by Elaine Bush Prince helped frame their account. Previous published works focused on the male line of Presidential descent only.

This is the kind of article (or book) that we all more or less dream of writing for our families; sadly, for many of us it remains a dream. Seeing a living, breathing, lengthy example like this may provide the inspiration we need.

The authors begin by discussing the intricate and still unresolved question of Timothy Bush's parentage, where the minimal direct evidence is ambiguous and not enough indirect evidence is yet available to reach a conclusion. Note to interested researchers: "A thorough search of Windham County court records before 1754, including files, might turn up further evidence of him." In his documented later life Timothy lived in Connecticut, Vermont, and western New York.

For Timothy and his wife Deborah House, the article documents ten children, 36 grandchildren, and 122 great-grandchildren. (Female lines are not followed as far as male lines.) Eight of their children married: to Nathaniel Willis Seaver and Abner Chamberlain; Abigail Marvin; Hannah (nee Porter) Preston; Lydia Newcomb; Maria Chamberlain; Cyrus Hamilton; Amy Yeomans; and Lavinia Barnes. Descendants lived in New Hampshire; Maine; Massachusetts; Kansas; New York City; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Kansas; California (beginning with the Gold Rush); and several counties in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Various descendants served in the Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War.

Stories are plentiful. Grandson Rev. George Bush had a stormy tenure in an Indianapolis Presbyterian pulpit in the 1820s. Grandson Obadiah Newcomb Bush died aboard ship en route between Acapulco and Panama in 1851. Great-grandson John E. Roberts died of wounds incurred at the Battle of Gettysburg. An interesting indirect-evidence argument as to the parentage of Lydia Bliss, wife of grandson Timothy Bush, is condensed into a footnote.

There's plenty to learn here even if your family tree has sprouted no Bushes.

Michael Thomas Meggison and R. Andrew Pierce, "Some Descendants of Timothy Bush of Connecticut, Vermont, and Western New York," The Genealogist 25 (Spring 2011): 35-55 and (Fall 2011): 233-56, and 26 (Spring 2012): 102-32.

Harold Henderson, "Timothy Bush (1735?-1815?) and Descendants in The Genealogist," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 4 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

William Berry: Where There's a Will There's a Deed

Archives.com has just posted my digest version of research on William Berry (1753-1839), who was born in Rhode Island, served in the American Revolution from New York, and lived much of his life in and around Stephentown, Rensselaer County, New York, and Hancock, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The first installment of the full account was published in NEHGS's American Ancestors Journal last fall, with the second and final installment this fall. Berry made his will in Allegany County, New York, in 1839, naming seven children and ten grandchildren. Deeds made in the decades following his death enable us to identify twenty-three additional grandchildren.

Surnames involved include Bliven, Coleman, Daboll, Green, Hackett, Hungerford, Monroe, Palmer, Parks, Potter, Saunders, Sprague, Sumner, Swartwout, Trask, and Walrath. Some stayed in New York; others went west to Illinois, Wisconsin, and beyond.

Studying those records was a bit like walking into a party where everybody knows everybody else and assumes you do too. Even though this party was more than 150 years old, enough of the participants were willing to "talk" so that eventually most of it made sense. There are still some descendants on the loose!

[Note to fanatics: this is my sixth article on Archives, but the site lists only the five most recent under my name. The first one, no longer listed in that way, is "Indirect Evidence to the Rescue," 25 August 2011.]

Harold Henderson, "William Berry (1753-1839) and His Children and Grandchildren in Massachusetts and New York," part 1 of 2, American Ancestors Journal, third annual supplement to The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 165 (October 2011): 368-78.

Harold Henderson, "William Berry: Where There's a Will There's a Deed," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 3 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Pioneers Had Major Government Help: Lessons from La Crosse

I'm looking forward to reading Skidmore College historian Eric J. Morser's Hinterland Dreams. It looks like he has landed another roundhouse punch on the myth of the government-free pioneers. From the very beginning, prosperity and growth depended on federal, state, and local government activism. Morser builds each episode up from an individual story, and summarizes the book's thesis in his prologue.

The federal government
* "built military outposts that shattered indigenous resistance in southwestern Wisconsin,"
* "made Indians dependent on American traders for their welfare," and
* "financed explorers who advertised the commercial possibilities of the region."

State government in turn
* "invested in transportation projects that drew settlers to the middle western frontier,"
* "built a legal system that helped lumbermen flourish in places such as southwestern Wisconsin," and
* "granted municipal leaders in La Crosse potent new regulatory and financial tools."

Local government used those powers and
* built and policed "urban railways, electrical lights, and the local telephone system."

Lawmakers and judges
* "enabled organized workers and women in town to participate in La Crosse's commercial growth in new ways and to help redefine its political economy."

Rugged individualism -- actually, the pioneering work of linked families -- was real too, and took place within this framework. Our family stories ignore it at their peril.

Eric J. Morser, Hinterland Dreams: The Political Economy of a Midwestern City (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Harold Henderson, "The Pioneers Had Major Government Help: Lessons from La Crosse," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 2 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Top Five MWM Posts for May 2012

I have my favorites, but these were the readers' choices from May:

1. Why We Don't Write (May 6)

2. The toughest genealogy course you can take? (May 28)

3. Proving in-laws without direct evidence (May 7)

4. "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all" (May 17)

5. NGS Day 2 Thursday the 10th (May 11)

The first two were runaways, the remainder pretty closely bunched. I'll post the June rankings in about  a month to let the dust settle.

Least viewed?

So many sources, so little time (May 5)

Harold Henderson, "Top Five MWM Posts for May 2012," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 1 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]