Archive for the ‘Book Recommendations’ Category

9780226313283The following is from an email written by Roberta Dollase and republished in this blog with her permission.

I am writing to invite you to a book talk and book signing at the Scandinavian Cultural Center, 206 Waltham Street, West Newton, on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.  Gisli Palsson, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iceland, will be talking about his book, The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan, published this September by the University of Chicago Press.

In the winter of 2015, I received a phone call from Professor Palsson. He told me that he had written a book about one of my ancestors and he was working on an American edition.  In revising the book for American publication, he wanted to learn about the American branch of my family.

He told me that my great, great, great grandfather, Hans Jonathan, had been born a slave on the island of St. Croix in 1784.  Hans was the son of a house slave on a sugar plantation and a Danish father.

A brief outline of Hans’ journey:  When he was 8, his master took him to Copenhagen where he spent his youth and formative years in his master’s household.  When he was 18, his widowed mistress wanted to send him back to St. Croix to be sold. After a famous Danish court case in 1802, he was ruled a slave, but before his mistress could follow through on her plan, he escaped to Iceland where he ultimately declared himself a free man.  In 1820, he met and married my great, great, great grandmother, Katrin, the daughter of an Icelandic sheep farmer and fisherman.  In 1869, their grandson Georg, my great grandfather, and his brother Bjorn went to Denmark to further their educations. While Bjorn returned to Iceland, Georg remained in Denmark.  His only son, my grandfather, George Bjorn, brought his family to the United States when my father was three, thus establishing the American branch of the family.

In 2015, through telephone calls and emails (including a draft of the book in English), I learned Hans Jonathan’s story and shared with Professor Palsson the story of my American family.  In November, my husband and I, along with our children and two of our grandchildren, joined Professor Palsson, several of my Icelandic relatives, and an Icelandic documentary filmmaker on a trip to St Croix where we visited the places where Hans Jonathan and his mother had lived.  Learning about Hans Jonathan and my family history and the trip to St. Croix was extraordinary.

While Professor Palsson’s book tells the story of Hans Jonathan’s remarkable life, it goes well beyond biography.  A quotation on the book’s jacket states:   Palsson offers a meditation on slavery and race – past and present – raising complex issues involving race, memory, and   family.  Palsson does not offer easy answers, rather, he pushes readers to ponder these issues on their own.  A beautifully written and accessible book.   Terri L. Snyder, California State University, Fullerton

The book talk is free, but the Scandinavian Cultural Center encourages registration.  Go to scandicenter.org, click on “Events” and scroll to “Author Series: Gisli Palsson.” A place to reserve a ticket is at the bottom of the write-up.  I think you will find the book and the book talk interesting.  I would love to see you there!

Roberta Dollase(author)/9 November 2016/vea
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  

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How to Use Evernote for Genealogy by Kerry ScottI have been trying to understand the difference between Dropbox and Evernote for awhile now. I finally figured out the bare bones basics. You can upload your files, photos, etc. into Dropbox, but you can’t change or update a record while it’s in there. To update a booklist or class handout, you’d have to download it back into your original program, fix it, then upload it back into Dropbox. In Evernote you can make notes directly into the program, but Evernote has it’s own program for doing this, which sounded pretty restrictive. And to make matters more complicated, I wanted to use the software specifically for genealogy.

I’m no different than anyone else when we get inundated with all this new technology.  Evernote and Dropbox originally sounded interesting, so I signed up for the free versions of both. After a brief flurry of activity they just sat there unused. Exploring Google for enlightenment was pretty hit or miss. Mostly miss. I always got stuck when trying to follow instructions that I found there. Either a step or a critical screenshot always seemed to be left out. (I need screenshots.) So I went back to working with what I already knew…

…Until I discovered that Kerry Scott had written a book about using Evernote. I was already familiar with her writing style from her blog Clue Wagon. I enjoy reading her postings. She has a good sense of humor and explains things well. Usually I look at book reviews before I either buy a book or request that the library purchase it. With Kerry I took a leap of faith and just bought the book myself.

From hard copy to Evernote?

From hard copy to Evernote?

I need to learn things consecutively. When it comes to computer software, jumping into the deep end of the pool doesn’t work for me. I drown. I’ve read through several chapters and this book is perfect. Kerry takes you by the hand (or laptop or iPad or smartphone) and walks you through Evernote one step at a time. I’ve also learned that there is a lot more to Evernote than I thought. So I’m giving it a shot.

Right now I’m working on syncing for the first time, making sure I can get my PCs and iPad to share my Evernote information. I’ve downloaded the program on the two PCs that I use. Then I tried getting the app for my iPad.  And I hit my first glitch. I haven’t used my iPad for awhile. I have to upgrade, update, and agree to new terms of service before I can claim my app. Nothing to do with Evernote. This is going to take a little more time than I thought. (How often have we said that to ourselves while working out the glitches in this brave new computer world of constant change.) Besides getting my mitts on all of the neat stuff that Evernote can do, I am also very interested in seeing for myself that PCs talk to Apple devices and vice versa. So the journey continues. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Quick tips: Even if you are not interested in Evernote, you might want to take a look at the Clue Wagon blog: http://www.cluewagon.com. I highly recommend the post “BREAKING: Clue Wagon is Now a Dating Sight.” It is very funny.

If you are interested in Evernote, you might like to know that Thomas MacEntee started a Facebook site in 2014 for genealogists who use Evernote. I found it and joined several days ago at https://www.facebook.com/groups/evernotegenealogists

Facebook and Twitter are great for following groups like this.  Back in the days (post Civil War) when I was in library school, I had a professor who said that if “it” exists, no matter what “it” is, there is an association for it somewhere. The same can now be said for social media. If you are curious about something, go hunting for a group of like minded people on Facebook and/or Twitter. The great thing about genealogists is that we get to find a whole lot of great people.  Enjoy.

vea/19 February 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy

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Photograph by The Curious Genealogist

There are many useful and important books that will help you research your family history.  The number can be overwhelming.  The following are, in my opinion, five of the key books used most by researchers.  You can often find them in the reference or circulating shelves of your public library.  If the library does not have a copy of the book you would like to see, it can usually be requested by your library from anywhere in the country through interlibrary loan.  The list at the end of this posting will give you full publishing information, as well as the call number for each book at the Newton Free Library.

The Researchers Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood is considered the best overall “how to” book for genealogists.  It’s first ten chapters explain the basic principles, practices, and tools of genealogical research.  Looking through this section will help you avoid the frustration of time consuming errors common to people new to various aspects of this type of research.  Each chapter in the second section is devoted to a specific type of record used by family historians to trace their ancestors.  You will eventually be using far more than just birth, marriage, death, and census records.

Records are critical sources of information for tracking ancestors and finding links. Before you hunt for a specific record, ask yourself what you need to find out. What information are you looking for? When you’ve answered that question, take a look at The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy.  The Source explains the type of information contained in each record.  Consulting this work can keep you from wasting your time on a record that is unlikely to contain what you need.  Most of the chapters in this work are based on a specific record and are written by an author who is an expert in using it. In each chapter you will find an extensive explanation of the record, why it was created, what it can be used for and the problems you may encounter while using it.  They also have sections explaining the basics of genealogical research and searching for specific groups or by special locations.  The eight appendixes at the end provide addtional tips and information.

The Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources look at records from a different angle, by where they are located.  The book shows you where to find records: state by state, county by county, town by town. Records from various states will cover different dates, may include different information, be arranged in any number of ways, and may even be found in different locations.  Probate records are a good example.  The vast majority of states keep these records in the county court house.  Rhode Island is an exception.  It has been the responsibility of the cities and towns to keep these records since colonial times.  Knowing this will not only save you time, but make it more likely that you will find the information you need.

The sole purpose of the International Vital Records Handbook is to help you locate vital records (birth, marriage, divorce, and death) state by state and country by country.  It often gives you the forms you need to fill out.  It will at least give you the addresses you need to write to and the cost of each record you request.  It is a good idea to double check this information on the Internet once you have the name of the government agency responsible for the record.  Pricing, addresses, and even the responsible agency can change.  A note about obtaining records.  In the United States, if you know the city or town where the records originated, it is a good idea to contact them directly.  The records will not only be less expensive to obtain, but the staff, being local, may be more knowledgeable and helpful.  Always be polite and appreciative.  Remember, the records belong to them, not to you.

Finding your information (aka one piece of your puzzle) is not the end of your work.  You need to keep track of where you found it.  It’s known as citing your sources. There are several reasons for this. You may need to find it again yourself.  It may help other researchers with their searches.  We are a helpful bunch of people who share information.  We help others. They help us. Citing a source also acts as proof that we indeed found the information in a particular place.  But what information do you need to save?

What evidence do you need to prove a piece of information? How do you evaluate two pieces of evidence that contradict each other?  This is where the fifth book in my list comes in.

Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, shows you precisely how to cite the many types and varieties of evidence you will be finding.  The book also shows you how many formats one type of information can be in.  It gives you alternatives when you hit a proverbial brick wall in your research.  And what about judging evidence?  Reading the first section of the book will give you a solid background for analyzing your conflicting pieces of evidence. Miles states that “All evidence is not created equal” and shows you why.  If you are looking at a census record, are you looking at the original record or at a printed transcription?  It makes a difference.

These are, in my opinion, the first five books of genealogy.  I will be covering may more separately in these posting and as lists under the tabs at the top of this blog.  Happy hunting.

Book List with Publishing Information:

Greenwood, Val D.  The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2000.  R 929.1 G85R

The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. 3rd rev. ed.  Edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargraves Luebking.  Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2006.  R 929.3 S72S

Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. 3rd ed.  Edited by Alice Eichholz.  Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2004.  R 292.107 R24E

Kemp, Thomas J.  International Vital Records Handbook. 5th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2009.   R 312.5 K32I

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2007. R 907.2 M62E

vea/11 May 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com


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