The New York Times has an awe-inspiring article by Kirk Johnson – awe-inspiring because it’s about a family that held on to their letters over the past 200 years, to the tune of at least 75,000 documents (we are talking hundreds of thousands of pages) that cover everything. When many of us scramble for every little bit of correspondence we can find, these people were having to find all kinds of places to store all of this.
Excerpt from the article:
Beginning more than 200 years ago, Mr. Cowan’s family has kept the messages â€” people called them letters in those days â€” written to one another, as well as correspondence with eminent outsiders like Ralph Waldo Emerson, sermons given by preachers in the family and multipart essays sent home while traveling.
The collection, at least 75,000 documents totaling hundreds of thousands of pages filling 200 boxes, is one of the largest private family troves that has turned up in recent years, genealogy experts say. It has been stored in attics, sheds and storage lockers over the years, and most recently in the Cowans’ home here in Boulder, where they were interviewed on a recent morning. Its contents cover the scandalous (a relative jailed for embezzlement), the intriguing (a runaway slave seeking refuge in the North) and the historic (the settling of Chicago).
Simply amazing. They are working on donating it to a historical society. The amazing thing about these (in addition to the numbers), many of them are series that were kept as intact as possible – while most letters we inherit skip around – they are kept because of a few things, many of these letters made up series of events, allowing wide-ranging stories and events to be told.
Registration maybe required.
The Norway Post is putting together information about genealogy resources for those of Norwegian ancestry. You can access it here at norwaypost.no. Some of the sites they’ve collected include:
The House of Emigrants
The National Archives of Norway
Passenger Ships and Emmigrant Lists (a very neat site)
The Norwegian-American Historical Assocation
Norwegian Name Statistics
If you have resources they don’t have listed on the page above, they would like you to contact them.
The Courier-Mail (Australia) has an article by Patricia Karvelas, about the newly installed Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, and the revelation that he has aboriginal ancestry. He discovered this after researching his family genealogy, and if his genealogy research holds up, it would make him the “first federal Aboriginal indigenous affairs minister”.
“People who are interested in the family tree have looked back and they come to a stumbling block, they come to a stop point. That’s just the way it is.”
Mr Brough said this was a common experience for people around the world.
“This is a common experience for people regardless of their heritage because obviously records weren’t so good, and I guess people often try and look back to see where they came from.”
It doesn’t matter where you are from, or who you are descended from, it seems like genealogists the world over have the same basic problems – brick walls.
Louise Gray has an article, Priceless pieces of history left to gather dust, in The Scotsman, about very valuable items that are just gathering dust in underground storerooms and warehouses, and they are in danger of being lost. There is a lot of valuable information that genealogists researching Scottish heritage would be very interested in.
Excerpt from the article:
Priceless records of Edinburgh’s rich past could be lost forever because of staff shortages and inadequate storage at the city archive, leading Scots historians have warned.
Thousands of artefacts, detailing the history of the capital from the tenth century to the present day, are kept beneath the City Chambers and in a warehouse at Murrayburn.
Among some of the unique items contained in the council-owned archive are the first recorded rules for playing golf, city records for criminal convictions, notes on the graves within Greyfriars burial ground and records about the establishment of the Edinburgh Festival……
The archive’s users are worried documents are kept in an “unsuitable warehouse” with inefficient heating and no air conditioning. Staff constraints mean the entire collection is managed by a lone archivist, much of it has never been catalogued and important papers are kept in cardboard boxes on the floor.
This is very distressing to say the least. Hopefully something can be done soon – they are talking about it, but all we need is another repeat of the 1973 fire in St. Louis that destroyed irreplaceable military records, or the loss of the US Federal Census from 1890 – the loss that occurred in both instances have caused many a genealogist a lot of extra work, and what Louise describes in the above mentioned article could rival those losses.
If you have ever wondered how to display different types of “relations” in your family tree, including droids, even if they aren’t the ones you are looking for, you can take a look at this: Star Wars Family Tree (Amazon.com).
I don’t think anything else needs to be said.
Source: The Genealogue