• Books
  • Apr28

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    For those of us of the genealogical mindset, we seek slight glimpses of ancestral life in their archived documents, their location, time in history, and even hope for finding mentions in newspapers, even if less than good.

    More desired are personal letters or diaries, but I suspect few of us are lucky enough to possess such things.

    Now, I have some homework for you. As you read May Sarton’s poem A Light Left On, below, think what “inside weather” you might document and leave for your loved ones to recall you by, to help understand the space you live in, physical, spiritual, and waiting for your return…

    A Light Left On

    In the evening we came back
    Into our yellow room,
    For a moment taken aback
    To find the light left on,
    Falling on silent flowers,
    Table, book, empty chair
    While we had gone elsewhere,
    Had been away for hours.

    When we came home together
    We found the inside weather.
    All of our love unended
    The quiet light demanded,
    And we gave, in a look
    At yellow walls and open book.
    The deepest world we share
    And do not talk about
    But have to have, was there,
    And by that light found out.

    Poem: “A Light Left On,” by May Sarton from May Sarton Collected Poems 1930-1993 (W.W. Norton).

  • Apr13

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    I’m back with another edition of cool old books I’ve found online. If you have Scottish Ancestry, you may want to flip through this 1850 book entitled (now would be a good time to get a beverage or snack, because you might be here awhile…)

    The Clans of the Highlands of Scotland, An Account of their Annals, Separately and Collectively with Delineations of Their Tartans and Family Arms.
    Edited by Thomas Smibert, Esq.
    Enjoy!


  • Apr8

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    I am only a couple of generations removed from my Irish immigrants to the United States, so my own direct Irish ancestors were not here during the American Revolution.
    But, while scanning Chronicling America for interesting things, I happened upon a 1919 newspaper article in The Sun entitled Irishmen In Our Revolution, which is a review of Michael J. O’Brien’s (then) new book A Hidden Phase of American History.

    Irishmen In Our Revolution
    The review itself is an interesting read from a historical perspective – both the role the Irish played in The Revolution, and the 1919 perspective of it all.

    However, perhaps more interesting than this to those researching their Irish family that may have been in America that early is that the book itself has an Appendix entitled Officers of the American Army and Navy of the Revolution of Irish Birth or Descent – with a very long list of names and assignments. And a bonus: he has marked all of those born in Ireland with an asterisk. You can find a full copy of Irishmen In Our Revolution over on The Google Books.

    Who could asterisk for anything more?

  • Mar3

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    Using my patented (it’s not really patented) process of scanning the Interwebs to find things hidden in dark corners (but nothing too scary), I recently found the confirmation of a story a cousin of my wife had passed on regarding the brother of their great-grandparents. The neat thing is the story goes back to the 1880s – a boy named Angus Keigan had begun working in the mines when about 14, as many did. But, sadly he was killed within a few weeks of starting.

    Report of the Department of Mines, Nova Scotia, 1883

     

    I had made a note in the family tree of the story, but Google Books filled in the story with terrible clarity via two books “Report of the Department of Mines, Nova Scotia, 1883” and “Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1884.”

    Apparently Angus was rolling a coal tub in the mines and decided to walk in front of it, lost control, and was crushed.

    It is often the case that family and historical research can have very sad things to tell us. But truth can also help clear up many things, and at the very least help us understand a little bit more of the hardships of our ancestors, and often feel very much for them.

    Don’t forget to look for books on all sorts of topics – the trade in which your family worked, the local, state and federal government reporting, and of course old newspapers. It is something I try to remember – but wouldn’t have thought of looking for a mining report.

    By casting a wide net using a blanket Google Books search for “keigan sydney mines” uncovered another bit of the past for my wife’s family.

  • Jun25

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    What do you do when your family history research has hit a brick wall and you’re out of ideas? How about filling in some historical background on the locations and times of your ancestors? One very good resource for those with New York City connections is Kings Views of New York City, 1903.

    It contains almost 100 pages of photos and when paired with The Google Maps Street View can make a fun way of touring Manhattan past and present.

    This particular book is both viewable, clippable, embeddable and possibly some other -ables Online, as well as downloadable (see! I knew there was another -able!) in PDF format for your Offline enjoyment.

    One nice example – a north-looking view up 5th Avenue at 44th Street from the time – a very different look now on Street View – although you can still *just* see the spire of the church several block north…

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