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Discovering Female Ancestors > 1 Sources Created by Women (Oct 15-21)

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message 1: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments This is the thread where you can post comments on the Introduction and Chapter 1. The reading schedule is only a suggestion. It is a slow read allowing folks to apply the reading to their research. You do not need to be reading the book to make comments.


message 2: by Mallory (new)

Mallory | 8 comments Has anyone here ever found an ancestor's letters or diary through a third party (other than asking relatives/descendants)?


message 3: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Not a direct ancestor but I have found diaries and letters of friends and neighbors of my ancestors. They were at the historical society - not cataloged in NUCMUC and only cataloged in the card file by the name of the sender and receiver of the letter.

I have used letters to sort out three gentlemen of the same name in the same geography. The letters provided lineage clues for two of the three. All the letters were at the historical society.


message 4: by Doug (new)

Doug (ammotroop3) | 1 comments I've been lucky enough to have had this happen a couple of times. The first was a book that was published containing dozens of letters written to and from a cousin and other family members. The second time was a few months ago. A person contacted me via Ancestry.com and we turned out to share a common great-grand parent. She asked if I'd ever seen "the book". I said I didn't know what she was talking about so she sent me a copy of a self-published memories of a mutual cousin about growing up on Whidbey Island and recollections and anecdotes of my great-great grandparents and GGG grandparents. I also included pictures i have never seen! What a treasure.


message 5: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I found out something one of my ancestors in a book at the library through one of my relatives, she just mentioned it offhand, and I have seen this book on the shelves never thinking to borrow, found out he had a business and ran a successful company. Also found another book, same ancestor's story was in it. Another successful business, coincidence, I think not. There are many serendipitous moments like that if you open yourself up to it. Also, on looking on the shelves at my local library, just decided to look up another ancestor's name and found both he and his daughter and that made me go on this journey now.


message 6: by Mallory (new)

Mallory | 8 comments Liz wrote: "Not a direct ancestor but I have found diaries and letters of friends and neighbors of my ancestors. They were at the historical society - not cataloged in NUCMUC and only cataloged in the card fi..."

Did you travel to the historical society personally or did you receive help from the volunteers in the area?


message 7: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Mallory wrote: "Did you travel to the historical society personally or did you receive help from the volunteers in the area? "

Fortunately, I live in the area so I was able to do the search myself. It helps to have identified the 'community' around your specific ancestor so that you have a list of names of people who may have written about your ancestor. The actual search did not take too long because few letters have made it to archives or historical societies.

I have also had success locating materials using NUCMUC. Again, it was lucky that the items were in cities that I had plans to travel to or through in the near future so I was able to collect the materials when I went.


message 8: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Mallory wrote: "Has anyone here ever found an ancestor's letters or diary through a third party (other than asking relatives/descendants)?"

I have been pondering this question since you posted it and I still think that asking other relatives or descendants is the most likely way to locate letters or diaries.

I recently helped my mother-in-law clean out her attic. There were letters interspersed with clothing, books, etc. There were even some photos interleaved in the pages of an old dictionary. I thought we had previously located all the family memorability (except the large prints stored in the attic). I can't wait to start going through the new discoveries. Some date back to the 1860s!


message 9: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) message 5 is my response to the question, that is where I went in the library and looked up my ancestors's last name in this particular index of a series of journals( His name and his daughter) and from then I have been on a mad quest to find out more. Found the vessel or coaster that he owned at one time from another piece at the library. I need to delve even deeper to get the full account. It is like detective work, you keep getting clues and they lead you to another clue. Fascinating stuff.


message 10: by Liz (new)

Liz (straea) | 25 comments It seems to me like other people would be much easier to find through a secondary source unless you go pretty far back. For me, I've found letters and diary excerpts of distant direct ancestors and collateral lines transcribed into books. I think that diaries and letters of people who KNEW one's ancestors and their relatives and allied families are a really underused resource in genealogy research, though.

An example: This summer I inherited some letters my great-great-grandparents wrote to my great-grandfather. My g-g-gparents lived in a small town and, like small town folks everywhere (probably since the beginning of human culture!), they spend a fair portion of their letters talking about other people in the town and about general town happenings. I am working on an index of these mentions so that other researches of this locale will be able to benefit from what I am lucky enough to have, and I will eventually donate the letters to an archive that will be able to ensure their long-term preservation and research access better than I can.


message 11: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Liz wrote: "I am working on an index of these mentions so that other researches of this locale will be able to benefit from what I am lucky enough to have, and I will eventually donate the letters to an archive that will be able to ensure their long-term preservation and research access better than I can. "

Thank you! I also need to do the same with my recent new finds.


message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) I need to get to the state archive in my town to see what they have by way of pictures, etc. I have no family that has letters and pictures of people that I am interested in.


message 13: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments More recent letters and diaries (the last 100 years or so) seem to be in the possession of a family member. Have you found any letters or diaries of family members? Who had the letters? Did you have any trouble gaining access? What strategies have you used to locate relatives who might have these treasures?


message 14: by Liz (last edited Oct 18, 2010 04:53PM) (new)

Liz | 379 comments Some ways to locate letters and diaries online have already been discussed in other threads (Your Guide to Cemetery Research). Were you successful finding any using these strategies?


message 15: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments The author mentions several published sources including:

Index to Personal Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, 1959-1984. by Harriet Ostroff

Women's History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States by Andrea Hinding

American diaries in manuscript, 1580-1954;: A descriptive bibliography by William Matthews

A Day at a Time: The Diary Literature of American Women Writers from 1764 to the Present by Margo Culley

Women in Waiting in the Westward Movement: Life on the Home Frontier by Linda S. Peavy

Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel

A guide to Bible records in the Archives Branch, Virginia State Library by Virginia State Library

Plain and Fancy: American Women and Their Needlework, 1650-1850 by Susan B. Swan

Clues in the Calico: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Antique Quilts by Barbara Brackman

On Goodreads, there is the option to "Buy a Copy" or search for the book using a number of different options. I use this feature to look for online editions of books on Google Books, etc.

You can also select Worldcat. That will take you to Worldcat's entry for the book in question. If you scroll down the page you will see the option to 'Find a copy in the Library'. You can enter your zip code and find out where the nearest library is that carries that particular book.

Are there other books you have found helpful?


message 16: by Liz (new)

Liz | 379 comments Reading (or listening) for social context can yield amazing results. My family and I were traveling west largely along a wagon trail. I knew that members of our family had migrated along the trail and thought we might enjoy listening to a book on tape as we traveled. I was stunned when mid-way through the book the diarist began talking about a particularly difficult labor endured by one of the women - the woman in question was my ancestor!

A few posts already made have talked about this type of serendipitous find. Hearing about these successes inspires me to read more diaries, post to more queries and message boards, etc.!


message 17: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Liz, that is awesome, I found a few books that talk about my great grandmorher's gramdfather. My husband was amazed that I could look in the library and have my ancestors name in the index. I am still on the hunt. I think I'l hit a treasure trove one of these days.


message 18: by Liz (last edited Nov 06, 2010 09:47AM) (new)

Liz (straea) | 25 comments I was stunned when mid-way through the book the diarist began talking about a particularly difficult labor endured by one of the women - the woman in question was my ancestor!

That is great - congratulations! I have heard several stories of people who attended or gave a lecture on genealogy wherein someone in the audience recognized that one of the people being talked about was an ancestor. Isn't this kind of thing amazing! :-)


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