If you haven't come across one yet in researching, you will. You might be too busy at the time to ponder it much. Perhaps years later when you decide...moreIf you haven't come across one yet in researching, you will. You might be too busy at the time to ponder it much. Perhaps years later when you decide to tackle that paper monster pile on top of your desk, on top of your file cabinet, and on your floor, you might come across them again.Or perhaps, you just haven't been researching long enough and you've been collecting names, and now your ready to find stories.
And then it hits you like a ton of bricks.
Your ancestor, your loved one, your distant relation died from tuberculosis. And you begin to wonder what their life was like with tuberculosis or consumption as it was once called.
I've seen it as a cause of death several times in my family tree, but my recent one that I encountered was my Big Paw Paw's 1st wife, Emma Rosin. She passed away after she divorced Big Paw Paw and after she had remarried again. She passed away from pulmonary tuberculosis 11 Mar 1931 at the age of 38 years in the Grace Lutheran Sanitorium in Schertz, Texas. I was saddened by this even though she wasn't my grandmother [my grandmother was wife number 4], but in researching her, I became, um, attached to her. To the best of my knowledge, she never had any children, and her death certificate indicates she had been sick with tuberculosis for 3 years. She was one of those family tree orphans who I adopted. [You can read more of her story in my blog posts on Family Stories: Smiling Big and Laughing Hard and in How a Baker Led me to Ducky Hour.]
So what's my point? What does this have to do with genealogy and technology and researching and sharing your research?
Well, I think it's really important to understand what our ancestors, or whomever we research, were going through in their lives. So many in the past died from tuberculosis or had to receive treatment for long periods of time in sanitoriums. What was that like? What were their lives like as they battled their disease?
Wonder no more. I stumbled upon a heart-warming and, at times, heart-breaking, book written by a girl who practically grew up in a sanitorium battling tuberculosis in Ottawa. You see, she kept this diary and then with the help of her sister, Anne Raina, it was published posthumously. Her name was Clara Raina Flannigan and her story is called, Clara's Rib: A True Story of a Young Girl Growing up in a Tuberculosis Hospital.
It touched me deeply as I have a personal reference point for diseases that attack families as tuberculosis attacked Clara's family, and it hit close to home. And did I mention it reads like a novel? I literally could not put this book down once I began. Clara's raw honesty and keen insight grabs you and will not let you go. Ever. After reading it, I wanted more. [And lucky for me her older sister wrote a book about another dark time in their family's life that Clara refers to, but gives you absolutely no details about, which totally left me hanging until I read the back of the book and found there's another book.]
If you've wondered what life was like for your ancestors who were stricken with any disease, but especially with tuberculosis, then I strongly encourage you to read this book. I challenge you to read Clara's story ~ her life ~ through her eyes as she was experiencing it.
Wait. Scratch that. Everyone needs to read this book. It's that powerful. It's that good.
Besides, don't you wanna know why it's titled, Clara's Rib? [You know you do.]
Stop collecting names and dates. Start finding out what your ancestors' lives were like. Start walking in their shoes. I promise you won't ever be the same again if you do.
Now, getting this book is not as easy as you may like, but as with all the best things in life, it's worth the hoops you'll jump through. It's available from the author only. I discovered her and her book from an interview she did for a newspaper, and it showed up in a Google Alert in my email. And, naturally, I had to have the book, but once I started looking for it, I couldn't find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. So I Googled it and found her website. And because I was so moved by her sister's story as revealed in her interview and on her website, I contacted her through her website. By this point I had to have the book.
She confirmed that her website is the only place you can buy her book, but, hey, she signed it for me. And? Then her sister's story rocked my world. And now I'm sharing it with you so it can rock your world. [And then I'm gonna buy her other sister's book. So it can rock my world too.]
It's a roller coaster ride that's well-worth the price of the ride. (less)
Genealogists and family historians, stop what you are doing right now and read this.
You absolutely must read the book In the Blood by Steve Robin...moreStop.
Genealogists and family historians, stop what you are doing right now and read this.
You absolutely must read the book In the Blood by Steve Robinson.
Take a break from your own research and see what happens when a very creative person's mind takes some genealogical ideas and fleshes out a story of intrigue, mystery, and murder. If I had been reading a paper copy, I'd call this one a page turner, but as it happens I was reading it on my new Nook Tablet, Valentina. [Yes, I name my gadgets. Makes it easier to curse at them when they don't work.]
I stayed up late to read it. I woke up early [in part because of my Pug, Millie] to read it. And I read when I should have been blogging. It was that good.
It was good to see characters I could relate to on a genealogical level. Mr. Robinson did not assume I was dumb and wouldn't have a clue as to what he was talking about. Through his characters he briefly explained in dialogue or in a action what was going on genealogy-wise, and I appreciated that immensely.
I read a lot, especially suspense murder mysteries, and I can truly say that In the Blood is on par with the best. Then add the genealogy part, and, well, this one is a winner.
Mr. Robinson weaves a multi-layered tale with the flawed protagonist, Jefferson Tayte, being pushed out of his comfort zone to search for the answer. Kinda like what we genealogists and family historians do every day. We research the past looking for answers about our ancestors and our ourselves.
Does Tayte find the answers? I dunno. You're gonna have to read it. All 877 pages of it. [Told you he fleshes it out.] (less)
I dare you to read the first sentence of Chapter 1 in the book In the Territory of Lies by authors Lois Stickell and Peg Robarchek and not buy the boo...moreI dare you to read the first sentence of Chapter 1 in the book In the Territory of Lies by authors Lois Stickell and Peg Robarchek and not buy the book.
Stickell and Robarchek got me on the hook with the first line, reeled me in with the first chapter, and before I even knew what happened, I was a dusty fish story by the end of their book. Seriously.
In the Territory of Lies, two women are ultimately brought together by genealogy, family history, and the internet. And, oh yeah. A family mystery to solve too.
Interestingly, the internet is the main setting for this book, but it's also a character in the book. And I would go so far as to say it's a literary device. [But only because I need to justify all that time and money to have that English degree hanging above me on my wall as I write this review. ;) ] This novel is uniquely written within emails and online message boards, and the 2 main characters are perfectly flawed as all good main characters should be.
When I began to read a sample of this novel sent to me by Peg Robarchek, one of the authors, I went from curious to laughing to oh-my-gosh-that's-not-so-funny-anymore by the end of the first chapter. I promptly emailed Ms. Robarchek back, and eagerly explained that I was going to buy it and review it, and she offered to send me a review copy, which I patiently waited for [Read: checked the mailbox twice daily.] until it arrived. Once I began reading it, I never stopped until I finished it less than 24 hours of receiving it.
Afterwards, I asked myself why I really clicked with their fabulous book and this is what I came up with:
*The book involves genealogy and family history. [No explanation needed on that one.] *The book has a mystery to solve. And it does it so very well. *The characters are raw and real, and that made me empathize with them oh so much more. *It made me laugh. *It took 2 very unlikely characters and brought them together. *It happened on the internet in exactly the same way I've met people online while doing research. [Okay. Almost the same way.]
Speaking of the internet, indeed, it is the main setting in this book. And I mentioned above it's also a character. Although, it's more than both of those, I think. It's a literary device [or could be if more writers used it in this manner]. This book would not be the same written any other way. The use of the internet is an integral part of telling this story. Why? Because times have changed and the internet as a means for communication is becoming more and more prominent. Additionally, this type of communication is done very well, if not in one of the best ways, in the online and genealogy and family history world. Stickell and Robarchek are ingenious for using this device in such a way that many of us could relate to it so well.
There are so many facets of this book that genealogy and family history researchers can relate to that even if you're not really into suspense mystery novels that weave genealogy and family history into their plots with deft finesse, you're going to want to read this 253-paged book of awesomeness.
I SO could have used this book when I started blogging. Seriously. With The Big Genealogy Blog Book, Amy Coffin, my friend and colleague, brings to th...moreI SO could have used this book when I started blogging. Seriously. With The Big Genealogy Blog Book, Amy Coffin, my friend and colleague, brings to the genealogy blogging world a great resource that has been sorely missing.
With over 2000 genealogy blogs listed at Geneabloggers.com, you might think, "Does the world really need another genealogy blog?" In her new e-book, Amy successfully tackles this question and many others that surround the genealogy blogging world.
Amy Coffin is the author of the very successful genealogy blog, The We Tree Genealogy Blog, and she describes herself on her blog as someone who can "...find genealogy information in the darndest places and I like showing others how to do the same." And she does this very well in her new book.
Here are 3 reasons why you should buy The Big Genealogy Blog Book:
Amy gives clear and solid reasons why a genealogist should start a blog, and she successfully tackles common genealogy blogging myths. Her suggestions give the unsure genealogist the confidence to make the jump into the genealogy blogging world. Often, once a genealogist makes the jump into the genealogy blogging world, a question they often face is, "What now?" Here, Amy does a fantastic job of providing tips on the finer points of blogging giving the beginning blogger the confidence they need to continue and to succeed in blogging. Amy provides a plethora of blogging topics for all levels of bloggers, from novices to experienced. She even provides excellent blogging topics and blogging advice for genealogical societies and professional genealogists.
Amy Coffin's The Big Genealogy Blog Book is a much-needed resource for genealogists that you simply cannot find anywhere else. She writes in her introduction, "If your blogging get up and go just got up and went, then this book is for you!" [I'll say.] And? You should get up and buy it right now. Metaphorically speaking, of course, because more than likely you're at your computer.(less)
Riveting. The on-the-edge-of-your-seat-I'm-not-putting-this-book-down-come-hell-or-high-water kind of riveting.
Written by Maria Sutton, The Night Sky:...moreRiveting. The on-the-edge-of-your-seat-I'm-not-putting-this-book-down-come-hell-or-high-water kind of riveting.
Written by Maria Sutton, The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back memoir is the story of a woman's search for her own family story. A story within a story, if you will, and it reads like a suspense novel. In fact, at times, while reading it, the phrase, "No way! That can't be true..." slipped from my lips. Ms. Sutton had me along side her twisting and turning through the time machine maze with magnifying glass in hand looking for clues, racking my brain for ideas to help, feeling my heart ache with the discovery of some of the answers found, and smiling with tears with the uncovering of other answers.
It takes courage for anyone to search for their family history. No, truly it does. It's not all shaking-leaves-oh-look-my-great-grandfather-was-a-private-detective-and-I-guess-I'm-one-too-how-cool-is-that-[silly-giggle] kind of endeavor. No siree. It takes guts to chase those family stories that make us who we are; those stories that are an intrinsic part of us; those stories we yearn to know with every fiber of our being; those stories that make our hearts ache and our bellies burn with the desire to know; those stories that make us weep; those stories that make us lose sleep and don't care; those stories that make us laugh so hard our bellies ache, those stories that make us say, "What the hell?", and those stories that totally leave us speechless.
It also takes extreme courage to not ever, ever give up. And Ms. Sutton never, ever gives up until she has the answers. Goodness, I love this about her. And I'm so thankful she shared it with the rest of the world. If you've ever wondered if you could have the courage to find your family stories; if you've ever wondered if you could set out and track down those family stories; if you've ever wondered if you could [or should] track down those family stories that aren't easy or pretty; or if you've wondered if you could share that courageous journey, then you need to read this book.
Other reasons to read this book?
*Because it's a good read. Plain and simple. This is a good book for ANYONE to read. I promise you won't be disappointed. *The backdrop is the present and WWII Poland, Germany, and Ukraine. So, if these are research interests of yours, then this is a must-read. *There's a happy ending. [Maybe not the ending you were devising in your head while reading, but there is one.] *Mentioning WWII again, if you are interested in taking a look at a non-textbook peek into one of the many facets of this war and its impact on Poland, Germany and the Ukraine, then you must read this book. *She utilizes all sorts of tools to research including hiring professionals as well as a former KGB agent.
You know, the more I read memoirs and family stories, the more I think family history should be a requirement for all those who study history at every level in schools. I have a confession. I never really liked history in school. [A shocker, I know.] But now? I can't get enough of it. [And it makes me furious how our educational system transforms our history from fascinating to uninteresting. How do they do that?] Anywho, it doesn't even have to be my family history for me to get excited about history in general anymore. I read other folks' histories and I even buy pieces of other people's histories. I can't get enough of it no matter whose history it is. Why? Because all of family history is interconnected creating a multidimensional web of history that spans not just the world, but time. We're all linked. How would our world be if we all got a little more excited about history? You know, once we learned that we all actually have some skin in this game called history? [Yeah].
Telling Stories from the Grave Consider this quote:
"I want them [the author's children] to be able to look into the mirror of a book, and find me." [No...moreTelling Stories from the Grave Consider this quote:
"I want them [the author's children] to be able to look into the mirror of a book, and find me." [Nook Tablet, p.398]
If that's not not talking from the grave, I don't know what is. Ruby Alice Side Thompson is the author of the diary entries contained in the books, World War II London Blitz Diary, Volumes 1-4. Only volumes one through three have been published, and I'm in the middle of volume two. However, I wanted to share what a great read this book is.
Towards the end of this first volume Ruby mentions why she is wanting to write a book about her life. Though these diary entries are now what has been published via Vickie Aldridge Washuk, Ruby's great-granddaughter. They are the brutally honest accounts of Ruby's life as she saw things as they happened. They are her innermost thoughts, feelings, jubilations, and frustrations.
And I found her quote listed above as being a huge eye-opener for me as well as touching. I'm always writing about and, at times, casting judgement on my ancestors through my sarcasm, and I hardly ever think about what my descendants will think about me and my decisions. Will they be able to look at me ~ ugly parts and all ~ and see who I truly was? Without too much derision or sarcasm? [They definitely won't be getting it in diary form as I've not written in one since I was 14 years old, and I've not seen it since then either. Unfortunately.]
While I don't always see eye-to-eye with Ruby, I can see that I wish I'd known her in person. I wish that I could have been the one to ask her over for tea and listen to her joyous descriptions of her sewing projects, her opinions of the very progressive books for her time that she read, and her thoughts on religion and politics. She truly was born too early for her time, but because of when she was born and because of the awful situations she found herself in, we are allowed have a small peek into the past from which we can see a family trying to survive the London Blitz during World War II. Luckily for the reader, Ruby has a tight grasp of the goings-on of the war, and she isn't afraid to add her opinions to the mix.
Every up and down in her moods and in her life is documented, and her candidness is what makes this book a page-turner. If you have ancestors who were alive during World War II, especially in the UK, then this book is a good place to find how towns, households, and family members lived and what life was like during WW2 during the London Blitz. Though she didn't have the toughest row to hoe during World War II, so to speak, her life ~ understandably ~ was forever affected by it. And these diary entries afford us a trip through time looking at life through Ruby's eyes.(less)
What do you do when you find unspeakable things in your family history? How do you handle the accurate reporting of what happened? It’s easy to judge...moreWhat do you do when you find unspeakable things in your family history? How do you handle the accurate reporting of what happened? It’s easy to judge others, but I think a fundamental key to really reconstructing your ancestors’ lives is to not judge them. It’s paramount to take a step back from your emotional reaction, and walk in their shoes for a little while. To do this does not mean you approve of everything your ancestors did in their lifetimes, but it allows you to freely explore as much as you can of their lives. In doing this, a researcher can get a more accurate picture of the conditions in which your ancestors lived in and the circumstances in which they went through.
In her book, Into the Briar Patch: A Family Memoir, Mariann S. Regan does a superb job dealing with difficult family history issues. At the beginning of her book, she promises the reader that she will be objective with all information she finds, and she lives up to that promise. She delves into all family relationships she encounters in her family tree and shows the reader the complexities of family relationships.
Additionally, Mariann explores her ancestors who were slaveholders, and gives the reader a glimpse as to the repercussions of slaveholding on her family tree and the relationships contained therein.
As we’ve seen in several episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? and in the first two episodes of Finding Your Roots, it is not easy for descendants to learn their ancestors were slaves nor is it easy for descendants to learn their ancestors were slaveholders. And I believe in her memoir Mariann takes it past her emotional reaction and carefully looks at her slaveholding ancestors - not to condone the actions - but to fully understand the influence these actions have had on her family tree.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who have come across unspeakable circumstances and actions in their family history research, and especially to those who have come across ancestors who were slaveholders. Not only does she give a great example as to how to explore this difficult issue, but her "Works Cited and Selected Bibliography" might be helpful to the researcher as well.(less)