Monday, June 8, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 8 - Conducting Collateral Research and Offline Education Options

Week Eight has a couple of great topics.  Collateral research is something I love and offline education is something I need to do more of.

Conducting Collateral Research

I love collateral research, especially involving siblings of people in my direct line.  For me, research on those relatives helps to flesh out other ancestors.

Ada Merritt Hobbs Matthews and Emily Hobbs Snell
This year I found the Pittston Gazette on Newspapers.com; Pittston, Pennsylvania being the home of my paternal grandfather, Howard Matthews. I've made some incredible finds in there, like a letter my grandfather wrote to Santa when he was eight. But I have also found marriage and death announcements for his siblings, social notes about birthdays and church events (these papers were the Facebook of their day), and articles about fires that destroyed my great-grandfather's and great uncle's businesses, even a story about their home being burglarized as they slept.  All these things have enriched my understanding of the whole family, including my grandfather and great-grandparents, those in my direct line.


My mother and grandmother. The photo my grandfather carried while he was overseas.

In another case, it was just entering my maternal grandmother' siblings into my old Ancestry tree that gave me a deeper understanding of her childhood. I had always known that my grandmother, Marjorie Elizabeth Dean Smith, lost her mother at a young age and lost a brother, Lawrence Nimmo Dean, to WWII, but it took on deeper meaning for me when I saw all the dates in one place. I saw that she was 12 when her mother died and Lawrence was 2 and that it was another 7 years before her father remarried. Although two of her siblings were sent to other relatives during this time, my grandmother and Uncle Lawrence remained at the farm. She raised him until he was 9!
 
Loosing a brother is devastating enough, especially when your husband and other loved ones are also overseas and in danger, but this must have been like loosing a child. It was a decade after her death when I put this all together and I found myself crying for her pain.

All that said, as I start a new tree with new research methods and standards of research, I'm tempted to research just in my direct line at the beginning, then to move on to collateral research when I have more confidence in my new methods.

Offline Education Options

Once again, Thomas MacEntee is in my head, telling me what I need to do! But I am thankful that he covered this topic because it made me take another look at it.

I cannot even begin to put a conference with travel and hotel and everything else into my budget but I know I need to take some of my education offline.

I haven't had much luck finding a genealogical society near me, but I was determined that I would not finish this post until I found something that involved live people.  Searching for societies on Long Island, I was only finding things like the German Genealogical Group and Italian Genealogical Group neither of which match my ancestry. Then I discovered that these are just two of 11 member organizations that make up the Genealogy Federation of Long Island. Other members include a library and the local Family History Center!

They have a Facebook group, which I have asked to join, and meetings hosted by the member organizations in different places around the Island. Many of them have a Help Session before the meeting. That is encouraging and exciting. Its too bad that I missed their Annual Picnic this weekend, but they do have a number of meetings coming up that look interesting. I will definitely post about that as soon as I do!

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