Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Ruminations

This month, the genea-blogosphere was all abuzz about the PBS series, Faces of America. As a family history researcher, I've been a little disappointed with the series. The research process has been all but disregarded, and the celebrities whose family trees were researched were not brought into that process.

Some have commented that anything which stirs up interest in genealogy the way Roots did a few decades ago is a good thing. From my vantage point as a family history researcher, I'm not sure Faces of America does that. Most people who aren't already doing genealogy research think they wouldn't know how to do it, and this series does absolutely nothing to cause them to think they could learn. All the searching is done behind the scenes by the professionals, and then--hocus pocus!--by some unrevealed mystique, a celebrity has a fascinating ancestor! I would have much preferred, and I think I was expecting, an approach more like that of History Detectives, where the actual search for information is given every bit as much prominence as the results of the search. (I can see where the professionals might disagree with my position!)

I research my family history because it's fun. It's like a huge, complex, personalized jigsaw puzzle that doesn't come with a picture on top of the box. It doesn't even come with all the pieces. You get some for starters, and once you've got those together, you get to go scavenger-hunting for the rest. You don't have to know how to do it all before you start, any more than you need a college degree to start kindergarten. You figure it out as you go. That keeps it interesting. And the tidbits of information you find as a result of your figuring are the rewards that keep you coming back for more. I wish Faces of America had conveyed that aspect, the pleasure of the hunt.

The day it ceases to be a pleasure, I'm done. If that makes me a mere hobbyist or a genealogical dilettante, so be it. But, like anyone who does jigsaw puzzles, I am invested in getting each piece right so the picture will be revealed. (By the way, nothing pleases me more than to get a reader comment that helps me do that.)

Anyway, having spoken my piece, I will nevertheless be watching the last episode of Faces this week. The subject is genetic genealogy, an area I don't know too much about, so I expect I'll be able to learn something from it.


February Accomplishments

Early in the month, I set up a new binder for the Schulte line. I made more photos for my heirloom family tree, as well as a list of reference photos identifying all images and memorabilia associated with the tree. I participated in the 2010 GeneaBloggers Games, earning medals in five out of six categories for the Tasks I completed. As part of that process, I set up several additional new binders and rearranged material in some of the older binders. I started what will be a series of surname posts that will be linked to the names in my new Surnames list page.

And in the other column . . .

. . . sourcing! My bugaboo! Despite the lure of a Platinum Medal in the Games (50 source citations), I realized early on that I would happily settle for a Bronze (for a mere 10 citations) if I could manage to push myself that hard. Even at that, I managed to drag my feet almost to the deadline. [Having 'fessed up to that, I will also say I discovered two things: 1) that I actually have sourced quite a bit more of my data than I realized, and 2) that the plan I intended to follow, as per my New Year's resolution, in sourcing all my direct-line ancestors was not conducive to efficient sourcing, and I've found a better way of approaching the job.]

And my efforts in the Back-Up category were a total bust, as my DVD writer apparently doesn't work. I'll try again in March, next time with a 2GB thumb-drive that my Bloodhound Cousin Cheryl sent me. Thanks, Cheryl!


Wendy Hawksley said...

LOL - love your honesty about source citations!

But you still got organized in February, which is impressive. It is a good way to start the year off on the right foot.

Dan said...

I had to look up the word tried to send me to a chocolate shop named dilenttante.. They even have some history (geneology?) on the founder.

Anyway..I know a new word today.

Greta Koehl said...

The jigsaw puzzle analogy is the best I've seen, especially the parts about not having a picture and not even having all the pieces. (And BTW, I'm in it for the fun, too.) Absolutely agree that search methods should be included for a truly fascinating story. Really enjoyed this article!

T.K. said...

Dan, I'm pretty sure what Google was trying to tell you is that I'm out of chocolate...

Wendy, don't go thinkin' I'm organized... I am merely 'more' organized. ;-)

T.K. said...

Hi Greta, thanks for stopping by. Hey, you did great in the GB Games!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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