Friday, April 16, 2010

Songs of Yesterday: An Appalachian Tragedy

I wonder sometimes at the romanticizing in song and verse of some legendary figures -- it helps to look into the story behind the story. In her "Songs of Yesterday: An Appalachian Tragedy," Jean Hibben explores the back story to the legendary, "Tom Dula" or "Tom Dooley," as he is better known. While none of the characters in this story seem to have any redeeming qualities, a few of the details, after the fact, at least suggest how his life . . . and death might have stirred the imagination of songwriters.

From a genealogical perspective, the alternate pronunciation of the Dula surname strikes a chord. My own Appalachian ancestral name, "Childers," while not ending in "ee" has been altered over the years and is alternately pronounced "Childress," again, this slurring an blurring of speech that sort of flips things around. This pronunciation of the Childers name is so common, in fact, they are used almost interchangeably. In the case of my great-grandmother, even the alternate spelling of the name was used within the family. While all legal documents, including the marriage record, show my great-grandfather's surname as Childers, the headstone of his wife, my great-grandmother, reads "Mattie Childress." Which, in a way, takes us back around to some good advice in considering all things: keep an open mind.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 27, 2009

The "real" story of Thanksgiving -- reaching mind share

As genealogists we know there are two (or more) sides to every story. We also know that history is often romanticized to favor one version or another, depending on who is doing the telling -- history textbooks are no exception. As the poet Emily Dickinson wrote, "Tell all the truth but tell it slant." The story of Thanksgiving is, perhaps, one of the most controversial of all holidays in what it celebrates and how the story is told. Although racial discrimination and bigotry still exists in the this country and in the world, most non-Native Americans are aware of and respect the plight of Native Americans. So much so, in fact, that one of the most popular yet elusive of all genealogical quests in tracking down one's legendary Native American ancestry. That said, the pain of that heritage lingers in the modern generation, as illustrated in the recent article on entitled, "Thanks? Giving? A History of Civil Rights." The PBS special, "We Shall Remain," is an attempt to tell the whole story of the Native American up to the present time, in what producers call "an unprecedented collaboration between Native and non-Native filmmakers." Episode 1, After the Mayflower explores that first Thanksgiving and its consequences. Old traditions die hard -- it may be awhile yet before the "real" story of Thanksgiving reaches mind share.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, November 20, 2009

What Amelia Earhart Can Teach You About Family Mysteries

Evaluating evidence and arriving at conclusions is a critical step in the research process. The mystery is what give genealogy much of its allure, the discovery of the unknown. Whether hurdling a brick wall or unravelling a family legend, it's important to be as objective and thorough as possible. In her article, "What Amelia Earhart Can Teach You About Family Mysteries," Rita Marshall illustrates through recently declassified information on Amelia Earhart, the challenges of evaluating evidence. As the article point out, our motivations can influence our interpretations.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

No lack of creativity in presenting family history

We all appreciate something new and creative. In her article, "History & Genealogy - Through Music," Judy Rosella Edwards introduces us to family history through music, Joel Mabus style. The author suggest music and other creative talents might be just the ticket to engage youngsters in family history.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Separating fact from fiction

Family history is full of mystery, which is one quality that makes it so fascinating. Melissa Slate, in her article, "The Legend of Virgina Dare," recounts the story of an early American lost colony and the legend of first white child born to English parents. As the article reminds us, about our own histories, fanciful though the legends may be, do not be too quick to dismiss them, as there may be kernels of truth.

Labels: ,

GenWeekly -- Delivering a Fresh Perspective for Genealogists