Friday, April 23, 2010

The Compleat Database: Cultural Affinities

Social context is an important aspect of genealogy research. Understanding more about the social environment of our ancestors may lend clues to the bigger genealogical questions and help pinpoint people in time and place. In her article, "The Compleat Database: Cultural Affinities, " Judy Rosella Edwards encourages researchers to include social information -- what she is calling "cultural affinities" or "connections" -- in the genealogy database. While a certain piece of information may not reveal much at first glance, later that bit of information may be the one thing that puts you on the right path. As the article observes, information on certain traditions, hobbies, celebrated holidays, even trinkets may hold clues. 

One thing to keep in mind, as well, in considering cultural affinities is the possible existence and value of non-traditional source material such as performance programs, club and society membership records, organizational histories, reunions, business associations, etc. If an ancestor is identified with a particular group or activity, there may well be records available that provide additional information. For locating such sources, be sure to check our parent site,, which has been a leader in transcribing original, non-traditional source material for many years and offering it online. With recent changes to the site, all databases have been combined and are now offered as a single, affordable package. But even browsing the holdings or doing a search on your family name, you can learn something new and may even be guided to other sources you might not have known existed. Not only can you learn about the various types and categories of records published, but you can also see what has been transcribed, thus far, for a particular region. And with the new Wiki you can learn even more. It's a work in progress -- new materials are being added weekly, so you'll want to check back often. Be sure to check out the Genealogy Today Subscription Data, the Family History Wiki, and the helpful Search features available on the home page.

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