Easy or complicated genealogy for the folks on this remote island? Tristan da Cunha, Wikipedia image.
Small, isolated populations should mean it’s easy to do their genealogy, right? Well, I wonder.
I came across this Wikipedia article on Tristan da Cunha, described as “the most remote inhabited island in the world, lying 1,750 miles from the nearest landfall in South Africa, and 2,088 miles from South America. Its current population of 264 is thought to have descended from 15 ancestors, 8 males and 7 females, who arrived on the island at various times between 1816 and 1908. The male founders originated from Scotland, England, the Netherlands, United States and Italy and the island’s 80 families share just eight surnames: Glass, Green, Hagan, Lavarello, Patterson, Repetto, Rogers, and Swain.”
Of course, success in doing family history on this island depends a lot on how strong their record-keeping and preservation has been. (Consider what one natural disaster could do to written history) Barriers to migration should certainly mean it’s easy to find ancestors. But what does that family tree look like? How many people will show up in multiple places on the tree?
Have you ever done genealogy research on an isolated or insular group? What are the challenges? What’s easier? Feel free to share on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page. Feel free to share your tales of complicated genealogy!
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Recently, Genealogy Gems podcast listener Debra Ingrum Trammel wrote to me with this question about cleaning out a relative’s home. Does it sound familiar?
“Hi Lisa, My husband is faced with the daunting task of disposing of his parent’s belongings. His parents at age 92 and 86 have things that go way back!!
We live in Tennessee and his parents lived in Texas so that in itself is a real chore to have to make numerous trips back and forth. My husband is so eager to get all of this finished but I am concerned that he will overlook or not be aware of any items that should be kept for his family history.
I continue to work on researching his side of the family. I know that we should keep certain documents: birth certificates, marriage licenses, definitely old photographs, etc. but I fear that there are items that I might not think about as being important. Might you offer some suggestions for us?
Here’s my answer:
Debra, I sympathize with your concern about overlooking things. When my Grandpa died I was pregnant with my last child and unable to go back and help clear out the house in another state. I worried too about things being tossed without folks realizing they were important.
One area to keep an eye out for is bills & receipts – a lot of folks (like my Grandmother) kept receipts from way back. While on the surface they seemed prime to toss, I actually retraced their steps and homes through the 1940s and 1950s based on the addresses written on the receipts!
Paperwork is often the area we itch to toss, but old envelopes and letters from other people writing to our relatives can provide many clues.
I also carefully go through all old books before giving them away because more than once a special tidbit has been tucked inside the pages. If you don’t plan on keeping the book, or don’t want to keep the item in the book, be sure to make note of which pages it was nestled in between. There could be a special meaning there. If everyone involved is in a big hurry to finish the clean up and you don’t have the luxury of time to go through the pages of the books, at least give give them a gentle shake over a table allowing anything tucked inside to fall out.
In Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 39 I tell the story of one of the most significant finds in my family that almost got tossed out. But Grandmother was tapping me on the shoulder, prodding me to look further before wrapping things up – and boy am I glad that I did! If folks in your family think you are being too persnickety about not over looking things, play that segment of the show for them, or tell them the story.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I invite all of you readers out there to share your unusual finds and recommendations for Debra on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page. (And don’t forget to “Like” us!)
Wishing you family history success, and many thanks for writing! Lisa
Spring is in the air, as it was 100 years ago today. On May 14, 1913 the Omaha Daily Bee, the front page sported a comic depicting the eternal struggle of suburban life – fighting weeds in an effort to achieve the perfect lawn.
(Omaha daily bee., May 14, 1913, Weekly Market Review Edition, Image 1 Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922)
You can view the digitized paper featuring “Mr. Suburbs” at the Chronicling America website, along with digitized papers ranging from 1836 – 1922.
To learn more about using newspapers to climb your family tree grab a copy of my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers.
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In this episode you will hear how one man’s passion for geography and history were saved from destruction, and you’ll find out what a portable scanner can do for your genealogy research and mobility.
My Latest Travels
I wrapped up my recent round of travels last week with a trip to Sumner, Washington where I spoke at the Autumn Quest Annual Seminar sponsored by the Heritage Quest Library. It was a packed room and we spent the day talking about how to find your family history in newspapers, using Google Earth for Genealogy, how to find living relatives and most importantly how to save your research from destruction.
There seemed to be a bit of serendipity involved in this particular speaking engagement, which was booked many many months ago. Recently Bill’s mom made the big move to a lovely retirement home and she really wanted her kids to get together and go through the house and pick up the items they wanted to keep, and then prepare the house to be rented out. As it turned out, amazingly enough, this was the ideal weekend to corral all four kids together to do that before the renovations on the house started.
So after Saturday’s seminar, on Sunday we all got together and although my mother in law was very happy to have moved and really wanted to the kids to do this, it was just hard to get started. Since I didn’t grow up in the house it was a little easier for me to see the task at hand from more of a practical point of view, and I was sort of nominated to guide the process. And it actually worked out really well. Everyone was very comfortable with how the remaining items were divided up, and there were lots of family photos to go around.
I was fortunate enough to receive my mother-in-laws father’s original Royal Typewriter. I think it’s probably from about 1910 and is in pristine condition. It’s all cleaned up and in my studio now inspiring me to continuing writing and blogging. And I also received a small journal with the handwritten life stories of her parents. So I have my work cut out assembling the stories and photos and I hope to get some coffee table books printed as well as do a video that the family can enjoy. We’ll see if I can get that done in time for Christmas.
I’m sure many of you listening have also gone through this process of closing down a parent’s household. If you have an interesting story, or came across an unexpected gem email me or call and leave your story on the voice mail line at 925-272-4021 and I might just share it on an upcoming episode.
Geographic History Saved
Now I mentioned to you that I taught the class Save Your Research from Destruction, and though that title may sound a bit over dramatic, time and time again it proves accurate.
One example is a story I recently came across originally in the LA Times
Quote: “I think there are at least a million maps here,” he said. “This dwarfs our collection — and we’ve been collecting for 100 years.”
Thank goodness there are folks like Matthew Greenberg, who came to the rescue of a century of old maps. He’s my hero!
Click Here to See it for Yourself
GEM: Interview with Gordon Nuttall of Couragent, Inc. and the Flip-Pal
I’ve been a longtime fan of the Flip-Pal portable scanner and I use mine all the time. You’ve probably heard me mention it before on the show, and I often have specials on the Support the Podcast page on my website where you can save money, and at the same time your purchase helps to support this free podcast. Over the years I have received questions from many of you who are trying to decide if it really makes sense to get a portable scanner, and wanting to better understand what it can do for you and how to use it. So I decided it is about time to get all the answers together for you in one podcast gem. And who better to get those answers from than the inventor himself,
Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, Inc., the company behind the Flip-Pal.
Use this link to Flip-Pal and use the special codes below:
“Carry On!” promotion: Save $20 when you purchase a Flip-Pal mobile scanner plus a Deluxe Flip-Pal mobile scanner Carry Case with Pocket, valid October 1-December 31, 2012. Promotion Code: C412A (Please place both items in your shopping cart first before using the promotion code)
“The Suite Life!” special: Purchase a Flip-Pal mobile scanner with Digital Creativity Suite 3.0 DVD and get a Flip-Pal mobile scanner Cleaning Cloth and Flip-Pal Window Protector Sheets 3-Pk FREE!, valid October 1-December 31, 2012. Promotion Code: TSL12A (Please place all items in your shopping cart first before using the promotion code)
These promotional codes cannot be used in conjunction with other promotion codes.
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Just a Few More Things
Internet and Computer Prediction video
Premium Episode 93 – Evernote
Premium Video: How the Genealogist can Remember Everything with Evernote
Check out this episode