Do you wish you knew more about your ancestor’s everyday life experience? Use social history for genealogy: to fill in the gaps between documented events.
Recently we heard from Barbara Starmans, a social historian, genealogist and longtime listener of three of Lisa’s podcasts. She wrote to share a new blog she started.
“While I’ve maintained my Out of My Tree Genealogy blog for many years, I’ve just launched The Social Historian, a longform story website featuring social history themed articles from across the centuries and around the world.”
Social history is about “the lives of ordinary people,” explains Barbara. “It is a view of history from the bottom up, rather than from the top down…. [It’s about] understanding…how people lived, worked and played in their daily lives. It is often the minutia of someone’s life that tells the story of who they were and what they believed in.”
“By exploring social history, you will be able to research all the circumstances of your ancestors’ lives and to build their life stories from the details you find.” Barbara send us a great list that we adapted and boiled down to a few core topics:
- Life cycle: Birth and birthing customs, health and lifestyle practices, medicine, diseases and epidemics, mental health, mortality rates, death and burial customs.
- Life at home: Clothing and fashion, food and cooking, housekeeping, land and property, alcohol and drug use.
- Life at work: Economy (prices, cost of living and salaries), occupations, working conditions and the labor movement, businesses and employers, social welfare and relief.
- Relationships: Morality, marriage and divorce, children and childhood, ethnicity and prejudices,
- Community life: Celebrations and holidays, traditions, education, language and literacy, religion/church, faith, crime and punishment, societal unrest, leisure pursuits.
- Game changers: War, emigration, inventions, transportation, communication, slavery and emancipation.
Barbara’s social history blog gives lots of great examples of her belief that “beyond just names and dates, those who came before us have a story to tell….By learning about their time and place and how they lived in it, you can add to your understanding of who they were.”
Where can you look for social history online? I’d start with these sites:
2. Click to find Social history resources at the Library of Congress
Have fun! I think learning about the everyday lives of our ancestors is one of the most fascinating parts of family history.
Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Might any of these collections include your ancestors? Today: English and Welsh Quaker vital records, Newfoundland censuses, New York marriage record, Nova Scotia deaths, Queensland wills and Pittsburgh newspapers.
ENGLISH AND WELSH BMD. Quaker birth, marriage and burial records from England and Wales, 1578-1841, are now available to FindMyPast subscribers. Quakers were formally known as the Society of Friends, a nonconformist religious group who practiced their faith outside of the established Church of England during this time.
NEW YORK MARRIAGES. Nearly 640,000 images have been added to a free FamilySearch collection of New York marriage records (1847-1848, 1908-1936). The collection is only partially indexed, but you can “scroll through” images online, much like you would on a microfilm reader.
QUEENSLAND (AU) WILLS. More than 45,000 wills from Queensland, Australia are now indexed for FindMyPast subscribers. The database covers nearly a century: 1857 to 1940 and includes name and year of death.
PITTSBURGH NEWSPAPERS. Newspapers.com and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have partnered to put issues of that paper online (1877-1921). “If you take into account the earlier papers that evolved into The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (like The Pittsburg Post, The Pittsburgh Gazette, and others—also on Newspapers.com), you’ll find issues dating back as far as 1786,” says a news release. “That’s 135 years of Pittsburgh history!”
Here’s a tip: Most databases, even those with thousands of names in them, are incomplete. If you don’t find an ancestor in a record set in which they should appear, double check the record set description to see whether the years you want might not be included. Search on multiple name spellings, nicknames and initials, as well as for the names of other relatives. Page through any images online. Search that same website (and others) for additional record sets that may cover the same time frame and place. Finally, ask yourself why they could be missing from the records and follow up on logical lines of inquiry. This tip comes to you courtesy of the newly-revised and updated 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke, which teaches you how to harness the powerful, free features on Google to find your ancestors.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference for 2016 is “Time Travel: Centuries of Memories” and will be held in Springfield, Illinois. See what your future holds by learning about the past. Genealogy Gems will be there, and you’re going to love our line-up of free 30-minute classes in the exhibit hall (booth #200). Plus, enter to win our Grand Prize drawing! Here are all the details.
Make Your Future Whatever You Want, But Make it a Good OneWith his iconic exclamation of “Great Scott!”, Back to the Future’s Dr. Emmitt Brown reminded us that the future is in our own hands. Make your future genealogy research “a good one” by attending this year’s conference.
This Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference will benefit the novice, the professional, and anyone in between. With over 160 sessions and 72 expert speakers from all over the world, you will be inspired to reach greater heights in all things genealogy.
Each day, a new set of classes will guide you through:
- the U.S. Midwest (regional track)
- the United Kingdom (British Isles and Commonwealth track)
- the continental European research (ethnic track), to give you the latest and greatest in genealogy research.
If you missed early registration, that’s okay. Walk-in registration is available by clicking here. Enjoy all four days of inspiring classes, only attend a day or two, or just meander around the exhibit hall.
Free Stuff in the Exhibit Hall
The exhibit hall is always a favorite place to network and socialize with your genealogy buddies. Wander from booth to booth to see what the future holds for genealogists and gather up all the fun and free swag, too.
Most importantly, Lisa wants to see you for our free sessions that are back by popular demand! With such a positive response last year, Genealogy Gems will once again be hosting a series of free presentations at this year’s FGS conference. Join us in our Genealogy Gems Theater in booth #200 in the exhibit hall. Our 30-minute information-packed sessions will help you think outside the box for greater genealogy success.
Attend any of our sessions and sign-up to receive our free e-book of handouts for all the sessions. Want to plan ahead so you don’t miss a thing? Glance over the schedule below (click the button to download the schedule) and mark your can’t-miss sessions. (Not able to attend? Stay tuned because we will be announcing which sessions will be broadcast live over Periscope for free.)
BONUS: Join Lisa in the FGS theater area of the exhibit hall
Saturday at 12:10 for
Top Google Search Strategies for Genealogists
Grand Prize Drawing: Total Retail Value over $210
Presenters at the Genealogy Gems Theater have pitched in for this year’s Grand Prize drawing. The winner will receive:
…from Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems
- 1 year Genealogy Gems Premium Membership, Retail value $39.95
- e-book bundle: Mobile Genealogy, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Retail Value: $41.89
…from Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard
- DNA Video Tutorial Series, Retail value $29.95
…from Family Tree Magazine: an e-book bundle valued at about $100
- Finding Your German Roots Online ($21.99 value)
- Family Tree Polish, Czech, and Slovak Genealogy Guide ($26.99 value)
- Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com ($24.99 value)
- How to Use Evernote for Genealogy ($25.99 value)
Click here for the Grand Prize entry form, which also gets you the free e-book with all the session handouts. Drop the entry off at booth #200. The winner will be notified by email.
Lisa will of course be presenting lectures during the daily sessions. Jump on over to our website page for even more information about the FGS Conference.
We’re looking forward to seeing you there, friends!