Friday, March 19, 2010

Footloose At The COG

92nd EDITION OF THE Carnival Of Genealogy

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is:


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Did you take dance lessons as a child?

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Did your parents go out dancing every Friday at the Elks Hall?

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Do you enjoy taking in a good ballet at the theater?

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Care to share a memory from your high school prom?

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What role does dancing play in your family history?

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Come on, let's cut a rug at the April 1st edition of the COG.

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The Deadline For Submissions Is
April 1st
30 submissions accepted

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Attention All COG Participants

Read Also The Changes To The COG In 2010

Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blogcarnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Introductions for your articles will not be provided for you due to the volume of articles submitted. Thank you!

Also, check out Jasia's post "FAQs About The Carnival of Genealogy," for all you need to know about submitting a post. First-timers always welcome and greatly appreciated!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form or select the 92nd Edition COG poster in the upper right hand corner of this page. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pencils and White Gloves and Standards, Oh My!

I'm waving the white gloves. It seems I may only be an eighth correct, a quarter correct, a half correct, not correct at all - who knows - when it comes to wearing gloves while handling historic documents. I only have my own experiences to guide me and it was wrong of me to think my experiences with archivists and archives were correct without further research.

Archivists the world over, it seems, have no standardized method for handling historic documents. The lovely Lisa Rex commented on my WDYTYA article saying:
For what it's worth, I've handled over a hundred original documents when I was genealogist in England and it's very rare to be wearing gloves. And pencils are allowed in the document rooms. They just ask you to be careful.
Karen Packard Rhodes said...
You are correct in saying that the pencil in such close proximity to the document was a "gasp!" moment. However, gloves are a debatable subject in the archival community.
So I did a little digging. Archives and their archivists appear to fall into two camps. Those saying that when handling historic documents gloves will be provided; and those that say clean hands will be all that is required to handle documents.

So with abject apologies to the experts of WDYTYA; the best practice when handling historic documents in an archive would seem to be:

Do as you are instructed!
You can't go wrong following instructions.

Bill West of West In New England has very kindly provided the link to the History Detectives discussion "Why Don't The History Detectives Wear Gloves When Handling Documents?" in his post "What I Think About Who Do You Think You Are." Thank you, Bill.

On Facebook, Terri Kallio commented that:
I thought that NBC and did a fabulous job tonight. You can pick over the small stuff if you want too (like the gloves and the pencil) but, I thought they did a great job. . .
I loved the show and I believe it did what it was meant to do - foster interest in family history and discussion about the show and its many facets.

Is it Friday yet?

Caution, wear those white gloves, baby, when you handle photographs. Here there is no debate.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What I Think About - Who Do You Think You Are?

"A young man with so much old information."

~ Sarah Jessica Parker to New England Genealogist Josh Taylor ~

The long awaited night of the premier of "Who Do You Think You Are?" has come and gone. I could not be more pleased. Family historians and genealogists, we of the "can't get no respect" avocation, are actually portrayed as wise and winning. Knowledgeable keepers of the history of our families; family history as it twists and turns through the much respected discipline of mainstream history.

Was it perfect? Foolish question. Nothing is perfect. Was it as close as a television program can come? Yes, I think it was. Producing a television program is no easy feat. Producing one that will be picked up by a major network in prime-time is even more difficult. Producing one that will be picked up by a major network in prime-time about family history; 1,000 times more difficult. Producing one that will be picked up by a major network in prime-time about family history that has staying power? How difficult that will be remains to be seen.

Yes, it is populated by celebrities. Many of us would also love to see the stories of those having no name or face recognition. Real people as it were. Is that realistic when we are talking about a major network in prime-time looking for advertisers? I don't think it is. A genealogical reality program can be found on the BYU network in its Generations Project.

So, how did Lisa Kudrow do? The program was produced by a well-liked celebrity who hung her hat on a proven product. WDYTYA has been a successful program in the UK for six years. It's drum has been beaten by WDYTYA magazine. (The magazine will be including the US version of the program). It has a track record.

Celebrities were the draw for those new to genealogy in the UK and Canadian versions and will be here in the US. We who live it and love it would have been satisfied with anyone's story. Are there enough of us to warrant an hour in prime-time on a major network? I think the viewer numbers show we aren't enough. The show needs converts. In my opinion, celebrities will be the key to converts.

A one-hour television program has only about 40 minutes of content, according to Tom Jicha the TV columnist for the Sun Sentinel. And I believe him, as I once conducted my own experiment. That was years ago and my count was 42 minutes of content.

How do you show the minutes, hours, weeks, months, and years of searching in 40 minutes? You don't. You hit the highlights. Which highlights you hit are the purvue of the producer, director, and film editor. If they have made the wrong decisions their audience and their numbers will reflect their success or failure.

This is television. A visual medium. Scenes walking in the gold fields of El Dorado are far more compelling to the viewer unfamiliar with family history research than depicting hours spent waiting for a microfilm viewer, copy machine, or the reference librarian.

My only objection to what I saw last night occurred with the original warrant for Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestor. No gloves? Bad form. And that pencil looming in Sarah's hand over the document? In all my forays into on-site research I have been asked to wear gloves and writing implements of any kind were not allowed in the room.

The blame can not be laid at the feet of Sarah Jessica Parker or Lisa Kudrow. They are family history neophytes. It is the responsibility of the show's expert consultants to advise as to best practices. In this case, best practices were visual and required no explanation. Done correctly, the novice would know what to expect when handling historic documents. It would have taken little effort and gone a long way to establishing the show's credibility.

Sarah Jessica Parker is charming, engaging, and appropriately interested and excited. Her comment about wanting to "fix it" should she find her ancestor was on the wrong side of the Salem Witch Trials was spontaneous and the remark of someone very new to the discoveries of the lives of their ancestors. To all those new to family history, I caution:

It is the wise Family Historian who understands that we can no more
take credit for the accomplishments of our ancestors, than we can
take blame for their failures.

Our knowledge of them is merely insight into ourselves.
You can not change history, take care not to misrepresent it.

Yes, I was pleased. The clear winner here is the genealogy community. We have an embarrassment of riches today with Who Do You Think You Are?, Faces of America, and The Generations Project. This is a first for our community. I want this to last. Support the programs by watching and support the advertisers and those who make the programs possible through grants. We will all benefit.

Thank you NBC, Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Who Do You Think You Are? and the advertisers who made it possible. Television hasn't looked this good in a long time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Medals Of The Genea-Bloggers Games

In reading the blogs of the GeneBloggers' Games participants I noticed all the medals have black backgrounds. The medals were created in the .png format so that they could be placed on any color background.

If you want to remove the black background, right click on any of the images below and "save as" to your desktop. The images will save as .png files rather than .jpgs.

March Forth on March 4th

Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It's not only a date, it's an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!

Today Is The Third Annual National Grammar Day

National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG) and author of Things That Make Us [Sic]. I am a member of the Society and Marched Forth in 2008 and in 2009. There are some of you who would question my membership having read footnoteMaven.

This year I give you myths that well-meaning people argue about every day in offices around the world AKA:

I'm giving you the number 10 grammar myth here, but please read the other nine as they are all my favorites.

10. A run-on sentence is a really long sentence. Wrong! They can actually be quite short. In a run-on sentence, independent clauses are squished together without the help of punctuation or a conjunction. If you write I am happy I am glad* as one sentence without a semicolon, colon, or dash between the two independent clauses, it's a run-on sentence even though it only has six words.

In a comment to A Baker's Dozen, I wrote:
My opinion is that commas and periods are highly overrated and often get in the way of a fine writer completing an exquisite thought as it is transferred to the page in one pure stream of consciousness emerging unmolested from the brain to the hand.
It was engineered to be long, but tell me, is this a run-on sentence?

Now go, enjoy National Grammar Day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Library Maven

One of my good Twitter friends, Missy Corley of Bayside Research Services, sent me a tweet earlier today letting me know she'd seen me hanging out.

Maven? Hanging out? I went to see for myself. Well, what do you know, there was fM on american libraries
DIRECT, The e-newsletter of the American Library Association for March 3, 2010.

Yes, fM's face and Family Tree Magazine's Fab 40 were hanging out at the library. I do spend a great deal of time at the library, I just never thought the library noticed. Either that or my avatar was the perfect fit for their article.

This must be what it's like to drive down the street and see yourself on a billboard. Surprise! Surprise! At least my pants weren't on the ground.

It is a pleasure to see that genealogy's day has finally arrived.