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Pumpkins outside of  Leelanau Wine Cellars Tasting Room, Omena, Michigan

This morning I attended a Yoga class focused on gratitude and dedicated to a recently lost friend from my childhood. It was heart-warming, there was laughter, and I was reminded to remember all those that got me to this place (whatever their roles)–and to have a little care form myself as well. With that in mind, I would like to take this problematic holiday and focus on my gratitude.

 

Thank you to everyone who’s invited me out to present. Thank you to all who have attended sessions–and asked amazing questions that challenge me and push my research. Thanks to everyone I have taken classes from, researched with, or traveled with on the way to more research. You all help me re-frame questions, think outside the box, and move forward on my path—even (and maybe especially) when it might feel like I’m the one giving advice. Society, Council members, and friends I’ve met through genealogy… Thank you too.

And also, thank you to my family for not calling me out (often) when I use our crazy stories and connections as examples. My research was probably begun more as a means of finding myself, but has become something I know you enjoy and take pride in. Thank you for your support!

Happy Thanksgiving and happy hunting!

Jess

PS. All the love for Just B Yoga!

First Birthday, c. 1953So eight years ago I published my first post and it’s been a crazy ride since then. I credit the blog with helping me improve as a researcher, connecting me with friends and family, and giving me a fun outlet–that also pushed me to further explore my roots. And while I haven’t been that consistent–especially in the last couple of years–I still want to keep it open and (ideally) post more often about what’s happening.

On the fun side, I’ve been distracted doing a fair amount of presenting, which has been fabulous! In fact, if you’d like to catch me around Michigan, I’ll be at:

I also will freely admit I get pulled down the rabbit hole in my research–which of course has it’s negatives–but it makes for great blog and talk fodder. I’ve been pulling together a new presentation on occupational records. I’ve found coopers, distillers, bankers, Levantine merchants, my share of farmers and more to discuss and use as examples–like the following Barrel And Box article about the fire at H. R. Rothwell’s factory. Rothwell was the widower of my 4th Great Aunt Frederica Massy who later also married her 1st cousin, Julia Hill Alison.

Coopers

Thanks so much for hanging out with me! Stay tuned for more posts and happy hunting!

Jess

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

My Children’s Librarian co-worker brought this lovely book to my attention when it was named a Caldecott Honor book this past winter. And it would fit right in to a family history storytime.

The title character thinks her name is too long and complains to her father. He sits her down to explain all her names and the family and friends that each one represents. Leaving her with a strong foundation in the past to take into her future. Like Tell me a Tattoo Story, it’s a parent sharing the family stories and relating them to a curious child in a way that the children can relate to and keep forever.

And it’s fun to talk about names and where they com from. To be fair, mine was one of the most popular at the time of my birth but my middle name is a strong older name to pair it with. Sometimes there are names passed down, sometimes names created. Those stories of why are worth adding to our files and keeping alive.

Thank you to Ms. Mari for bringing it to my attention!

Happy hunting,

Jess

GSMCLogoI’m honored to be presenting four talks at the Genealogical Society of Monroe County, MI’s 42nd Annual Spring Seminar on March 16th at Monroe County Community College.

I’m presenting:

  • The ABC’s of DNA & Genealogy
  • British Isles to Canada to Michigan
  • Scandalous Ancestors
  • Road Trip! No, really, it’s not all online!

I’m really looking forward to it and have had fun updating my slides! See that attached flyer for more details: 2019GSMCSeminarFlyer

Hope to see you!

Jess

It’s been a weather eventful winter here in Michigan and January and February felt like we were just hanging on for dear life. But in the background plans were being made. So, stay tuned for a number of event announcements, starting with this one (below) put on annually but my local library system, Capital Area District Libraries. There are sessions for all skill levels and time for discussion with fellow researchers. Follow this link for a pdf of the handout: Family History Open House 2019 Final.

Join us!

Jess

FamilyHistoryOpenHouse

I went looking for an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of this title after catching an exchange between @CleverTitleTK (Fight on #resistancegenealogy!) and the author. @weiss_squad and @PRHLibrary came through for me!

Cover ImageFamily secrets, DNA, nature and nurture…

As a memoirist Shapiro has written extensively on her family and relationships which no doubt made the results of her DNA test all the more disconcerting. In Inheritance she presents a heartfelt chronicle of the discovery of a non-Jewish 1st cousin in her results, the research to discover her surprise biological paternal family, and the initial correspondence with her genetic father, all alongside her anguish over what that meant for her relationships with her social father and mother—both deceased.

For me this was a bit close to home and I will admit to putting it down briefly as her pain and confusion came off the page. As a genealogist this isn’t a particularly new story to me but, given recent revelations in my own family, it was a timely and emotional read. As the popularity of commercial DNA tests grows it is obvious that stories like this will continue to come to light and Dani Shapiro offers here a thoughtful examination of her feelings, motivations, and fears that can be of comfort to people with similar stories.

Happy reading and hunting!

Jess

Labor Day commemorates the American Labor Movement and the contributions of workers to the country. In the past in the blog I’ve focused on the range of occupations in my family and encouraged people to think about what their own relatives did in life. But I’m hoping that researchers are going the extra steps to read up on those occupations and see if your families were involved in unions and other pro-labor organizations—whatever their occupations. I’ve come across subjects that were stone masons, teachers, railroad workers, auto workers, porters, farm workers, etc.

Remember, we’re looking for more than dates. We’re looking for the stories as well. Were they organizers? Members? Strikers? Negotiators? What were the realities of their work life that unions sought to improve?

If you know the union or organization your subjects were associated with you can look them up in Worldcat.org, Archivegrid, or Google to find possible collections to explore possibly including journals such as the The Stone Cutters’ Journal  below (available on Google Books) or more detailed record sets.

Cover of the February 1922 issue of the Stone Cutters' Journal.

Here are a few examples of collections that may be of use:

Note: Multiple institutions may hold different collections for the same organizations.

What other groups might your families have been members of?

Happy hunting!

Jess