Oct 222014

Blog Image 22 Oct 2014

For those of us with our one-place study in the United States, October has been a really busy month. In honor of Family History Month, many of the subscription websites have provided free access at various times, several local and regional societies and associations have put on special programs with guest speakers, and online groups (including several Google+ Communities) have hosted webinars, hangouts, and recorded presentations. October will close out with the National Archives hosting a three-day virtual genealogy fair that you can attend from the comfort of your own home.

We each create, receive, send, file, stash and throw away lots of documents and other materials over the course of a lifetime. And governments are just like individuals. Documents and materials are created on a daily basis by the United States Federal government, however only about three percent are considered important for legal and/or historical reasons. The National Archives (NARA) is affectionately known as the Nation’s record keeper and these VIP documents are kept forever in the Nation’s attic. Actually NARA has quite a few attics. The most impressive, the National Archives Building, is located a few short blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C. Additional Archives and Records Centers are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, College Park, Dayton, Denver, Fort Worth, Kansas City, New York City, Philadelphia, Riverside, San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis. Many of these permanent records are of special interest to genealogists and family historians, including census schedules, pension files, the Freedmen’s Bureau materials, ship passenger lists, military personnel service and medical records, land records (public lands transferred to private ownership), veterans records, and presidential library collections, as well as agency and intergovernmental records.

Whether you have a one-place study in the United States or would simply like to learn a bit more about our record keeping, why not check out NARA’s Research Our Records at their website. And be sure to tune in for the Virtual Genealogy Fair October 28, 29 and 30. The schedule and handouts can be found at Genealogy Fair where you will find 17 great topics presented by NARA’s record keepers (our friends the Archivists). The sessions will be presented live and recorded on the NARA’s Tube channel!

Let’s close out Family History Month will a good new-fashioned fair!

Tessa Keough

Oct 152014

Blog 15 Oct 2014

Back in May we had a wonderful chat with Suzie Grogan about some of the emotional impacts of WW1 on servicemen and their families (which you can watch on YouTube - Suzie’s slides are also available). There were many fascinating things that came up during the talk and we only scratched the surface.

Now everyone has the opportunity to learn about this in more detail. Shell Shocked Britain, Suzie’s book on the topic, was released by Pen & Sword Books this month in hardback (and will be coming soon in e-book and later in paperback format). You can purchase a copy direct from the publishers or via your usual online or offline retailer.

Alex Coles

Oct 132014

Blog Image 13 Oct 2014

This just in – it’s time for another Family History Month post. Let’s focus on two things I especially enjoy – our Society’s current Shared Endeavour – World War I (a shout-out to Alex Coles who has been moderating this project all year – with forum topics, hangouts, and articles in Destinations sharing how she is approaching this project in conjunction with her place) AND online learning opportunities.

FutureLearn is a website that brings together students who want to learn with courses offered by universities around the world. The deliver method used is a MOOC (massive open online course). What this means is that the course content is online – usually videos, lectures, links to online resources, student interaction in forums, and sometimes quizzes or essays. Courses are oftentimes available with a certificate of completion. I am finishing up a six-week course on Irish history taught by three professors at Trinity College in Dublin. My fellow students are located all over the world and are of varying ages. The comments and additional resources shared by the students are one of the highlights of the course. I have learned as much from them as I have from the professors.

If you have been following along all year with our Shared Endeavour, you have had an opportunity to study your place from a particular standpoint – the effect World War I had on your place. Whether this was the effect on the individuals who went to war, the families they left behind, the deprivation suffered by the people in your place, how your place changed (becoming less rural or more industrial), the changes from the late 19th century society to the early 20th century society, how politics, migration, health, jobs, technology, and culture changed your place (and the world). Of course World War I went on for more than one year (we started our Shared Endeavour to coincide with the start of the war). And for many of our places (certainly the United States and Canada), we might not have had any serious involvement until later in the war.

Alex Coles has provided a number of excellent resources to date (be sure to check out the Society Forum for resources and ideas). In honor of Family History Month, I’m going to share a learning opportunity with you. Why not learn more about World War I by taking a course through FutureLearn? The following courses are starting soon and will be sure to add to your understanding of World War I and your place.

World War 1: Paris 1919 – A New World Order?
A three week course starting on 13 October and taught by Christian J. Tams through the University of Glasgow (and produced in association with the BBC)

World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age
A three week course starting on 20 October and taught by Peter Gray through the University of Birmingham (and produced in association with the BBC)

World War 1: Changing Faces of Heroism
A three week course starting on 27 October and taught by Allison Fell through the University of Leeds (and produced in association with the BBC)

World War 1: Trauma and Memory
A three week course starting on 3 November and taught by Annika Mombauer through the Open University (and produced in association with the BBC)

Perhaps we will meet up on the student forum over at FutureLearn if you sign up (did I mention these courses were FREE? – yes FREE!) for one or more of these courses. Together we can learn more about World War I from these various perspectives.

Happy Family History Month!

Tessa Keough

Oct 082014

Blog 8 Oct 2014

For those of you who haven’t heard its Family History Month in the USA. For online genealogists that means that several of the fee-based subscription sites (including Ancestry.com and AmericanAncestors.org) are providing access to some of their databases for free or hosting free webinars. Other sites (including FamilySearch.org) are making a point to showcase newly added record-sets and host research webinars. Many genealogists and family historians are getting into the act by blogging each week or every day with special themes. Over at the Legacy Virtual Users’ Group Community on Google+, the community is posting a tip every day about how to use features and functions in the software. Since I use Legacy with my one-place study, some of those tips will be especially useful. What software do you use with your one-place study? Do you have a website for your one-place study? The most recent edition of Destinations has an article about setting up a one-place study website using WordPress that you might want to check out (a nice little project for Family History Month – getting your study out there!). Several indexing projects are starting up – volunteer indexers will be paying it forward with their work and those indexes will benefit all of us. For offline genealogists, lots of libraries and archives are having special programs in honor of Family History Month and several societies and organizations are hosting special programs. Be sure to check in with the various Facebook, Google+ and Twitter groups as well as the websites for family history and local history societies to see if anything is planned in your area.

October is also a great time to recharge and get back to it with your family history and one-place study. Many of us have family commitments during the summer/vacation months and after the stress of getting everyone back into their school and work modes, October is the time to refocus on our one-place study plans for the remainder of the year and into 2015. This could involve taking an online course offered by our own Janet Few or a course on places or record sets offered by Pharos, working on your own one-place study projects, or continuing on with the Shared Endeavour Project – World War I. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read the most recent edition of Destinations, be sure to check out Alex Cole’s article entitled Home Front (we are following along with Alex’s WWI research for her Wing study). There are some great ideas for areas to conduct further research and find out how WWI affected your place’s people, those who served and those who stayed behind.

For those of you in the USA, what are your plans for Family History Month? And if you don’t live in the USA or your one-place study is not in the USA, no worries – you can still celebrate with us. If you would like to learn more about online learning opportunities and perhaps “go back to school,” why not check out my E-Learning Resources Handout handout (with links to over 60 different resources, there is something for everyone).

Happy Family History Month!

Tessa Keough

Sep 282014

Kate Tiller Book

‘Local war memorials speak of both the dead and the living’, Kate Tiller states in the introduction to her book, Remembrance and Community: War Memorials and Local History. As a Society, we have been focussing this year in our ‘Shared Endeavour’ project on World War One (for obvious reasons) and Kate’s book reflects on the determination of those left behind ‘to honour and remember the dead of Britain’s first mass, modern war.’

Kate is a lecturer at our conference in four weeks time in Telford and is a Founding Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Kellogg College. As Director of Studies in Local History at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, she planned and implemented the University’s first graduate degree course specifically designed for part-time students – the MSc in English Local History – introduced in 1993.

There are not many publications on the topic of War Memorials and Local History and Kate’s book is most certainly a welcome addition to any one-place studier’s shelf. War memorials were already an established feature of Victorian and Edwardian Britain prior to World War One and Kate provides a thorough history, with illustrations, to discuss commemorations prior to 1914. Spontaneously beginning during World War One as news of death and injuries were received, remembrance was initially a private affair for those lost in the War with public shrines, memorials and newspaper articles. However, Kate describes some of the public and shared markers which developed between 1914 and 1918, including the Rolls of Honour scattered across the United Kingdom.

Identifying sources and ideas for researching the creation of war memorials, the notes, further reading and websites are thorough and Kate manages to weave images, facts and history together beautifully using four case studies – the making and locating of the war memorials, the people behind the names and the locations with more than one memorial. This book is an absolute must read.

Kirsty Gray