Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Genealogy Bias

Okay, so maybe I am using this post to have an excuse to share another cute photo, especially of kids on sleighs, but ah well.

To get back on topic, the title of this post is to explain a little of the rhyme and reason behind most of my posts.

It may at times seem that I tend to post with a bias. What I mean by bias is that I will tend to post about certain particular family members or sides of family. Generally there are a few reasons behind this:

1) Access - I may post more about certain people because I have more access to their artifacts, especially concrete information, which at times can come in droves and at other times, can be a complete dry spell for many months or years. For example, I have ample access to my grandmother's family history due to her countless photo collection (and I mean countless!!), letters, family heirlooms, and hearing stories directly from her in person. She's my last oldest living family member on her side of the family.

2) Records - Due to knowing certain members information due to having initial access to them, allows me to find better and more accurate info about them online. The less I know is when I tend to hit roadblocks in my research and sometimes have to look up other family members to even get names or birth dates - sort of going through the back door to get info. So, access is really related to getting good records. Without the two, it can become very difficult.

3) Interest - Part of bias can also be blamed on a level of interest you have on certain family members. I think part of this is based on the two above factors - Having a personal connection really helps this. I will write more proficiently about those who I feel more of a connection with than those I still know little to nothing about. I can make assumptions at best with my findings, but generally, that's all they'll ever be. It's an ongoing frustration of any genealogist who cannot get to know their ancestors a little better. But, records, even the very factoid filled census records, can offer us some kind of idea of who they were.

So, if it seems I am a little biased about what I blog about, it's really about all of the factors above. However, I do aim to blog more about some journeys/roadblocks I have, too, in case someone runs across this blog and can possibly help me solve my problems.

A Baby on the Way in 1979

My mother (in center, with her sister on left, and mother, on right) was expecting my brother in 1979. They had a baby shower for her sometime in July of 1979 at her mother's house. At the time, my parents did not know if they were having a boy or girl, but then on August 18, 1979, my brother was born. 

Excuse the bad quality of the color of the photos. So many photos from the 1970's and early 1980's all have this bad discoloration due to cheap inks used when printing. It's too bad. 

Travel Tuesday

In what appears to be December 1918, my Great Grandmother, Lydia, received this post card from her aunt, Katie Herr, who lived in Los Angeles, CA.

The transcription reads:

Dear Niece Lydia, 

Was glad to hear from you, also glad to know that Geo [Lydia's husband] recovered from the flu. It was too bad that Stoney [Geo's brother] had to go so soon where I read it in the news I thought I was dreaming such a straight person he was. But it seems it took the fat people - always the first - Am feeling fine and wish you are very same with [unknown word] all am so ever. 

Your Aunt Katie

It appears Stoney, Geo's brother, passed on from the flu epidemic of 1918. I have a record that he had registered for the World War I draft. I am unsure if he died while on duty, as he registered in Septemeber of 1918 and he appears to have died sometime in November. Very sad, as I wondered what came of him and now I am just realizing what his fate was by re-reading this postcard.

It's amazing that a tiny artifact such as a postcard can give us so much information. This nice little postcard also tells us George also had the flu, but he survived it. Just imagine the pain the family must have felt, knowing his brother had died from it and that they could very well lose the breadwinner and patriarch of the family, too. Thank goodness George survived.

If George had not survived, my Grandma would have never been born, nor would have her brothers George, Alwin and James.

Sometimes it's easy to overlook these minor details in little things such as postcards, telegrams, or other small pieces of information. Like any skilled researcher knows, there's fantastic information in even the smallest of details. Just imagine how archaeologists have been able to unearth amazing artifacts due to their amazing efforts of perseverance.

*Also, I have no idea what Katie Herr meant about "fat people", but that was not very nice of her to say! Maybe she meant it in a different way. At least I hope so! Don't shoot me, I am just the messenger - haha!