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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Monday, January 31, 2011

January Ruminations

I had occasion to read someone else's correspondence this month. Among my small group of genealogy friends, one had received a request to donate information to a genealogy library and wondered what others thought about the request. Several others had read the request and shared their thoughts before I got there, so I had the benefit of knowing not only the content of the request, but also how others responded.

Because my own reaction to the shared email was immediate and strong, I was surprised that no one mentioned the issue that struck me right between the eyes. Perhaps courtesy demanded that this particular issue be ignored, particularly since the name of the email correspondent had been included. For that reason, I decided to withhold my comment, i.e., not have it appear in conjunction with the email. But I think there's an important point to be considered. Hence I'll make my remarks here, where they won't be associated with anyone by name. They are relevant to everyone, anyway.

The email in question consisted of only 98 words, including the greeting and signature. In the body of the letter there were just seven sentences. But in that short bit of correspondence, there were no less than eight spelling errors and seven errors of grammar and/or punctuation.

Call me the grammar police if you will, but this email was sent on behalf of an organization that hopes to get genealogists to hand over their research for preservation and sharing. Don't get me wrong--I think preservation and sharing is great, but I would be very reluctant to give my research to an organization for which correctness is apparently a nonexistent priority.

Earlier in the month, the subject of poor grammar and the resulting lack of credibility had come up in another context. I won't go into it further except to say I'm so very thankful for the teachers who taught me how to use English correctly, and for the schools which deemed that an educational priority. It is, by far, the most essential skill I learned in school.


January Accomplishments

I've been working on three books this month:
  • a photo book about a place I enjoyed almost daily in 2005-2006. Selecting photos for this one was fun, but drawing them together into a cohesive book is harder than I thought it would be. In the end, this may be two or three books instead of just one.
  • the dad book. I tried using a book of interview questions to get my dad talking, and used an iPhone app to unobtrusively record what he said. That didn't go along as easily as I'd have liked, although he was willing to answer questions. With my dad, it works best to ask the right question at the right moment. Spontaneity is key. Taking notes or asking questions from a list is like throwing a soggy blanket on a match. I totally get that... I'm the same way.
  • a compendium of materials about Reverend Samuel Stone. Currently this book stands at 174 pages, and in the interest of avoiding burn-out on the topic, I've taken a little break from it before deciding whether to cut pages or add more. Either way, my deadline for this one is the end of February.
And in the other column . . .

I haven't vacuumed yet this year . . . . . you got a problem with that?


Greta Koehl said...

Hey, now I'm feeling smug because I've vacuumed once this year. I wonder if I can get brownie points for that....

I know what you mean about spelling and grammar errors. I can't believe how often they occur in "finished products."

Congrats on getting work done on the books!

T.K. said...

Greta, I'm pretty sure one always gets brownie points for sucking up!

I think you ought to get a few extra for setting me up for such a fine punchline, too!

JL said...

I can't stop reading your blog. I'm working my way backwards through the rss feed and then I'll have to go backwards through the blog itself. How far DO you go back?

Just wanted to tell you, I read a post awhile ago about the 3 top reasons people hit the Back button. The one (not one of the 3) that most people left in the Comments was 'bad spelling, lack of proper punctuation and paragraph spacing, lousy grammar', etc. No kidding? Slight credibility problem there?

T.K. said...

I started Before My Time in 2006, but brought in a few earlier genealogy-related posts I'd had in another blog. Not to fear, though, JL, I only average about one post a week. Last year was a fluke--I did a surname series that ran daily for about three months. It makes for some pretty boring reading--it's just there for the sake of searchability.

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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