Well the summer is officially over… And I haven’t been lounging around the pool all summer.
Ok I’ve lounged around the pool most of the summer but I haven’t been completely idle while working on my shade tan. I mean I can do research from anywhere these days. So with the internet and my trusty iPad and my Evernote, I processed cards, analyzed historic maps I’d downloaded, and made list after list of things I need to look at again. All poolside…
My friend Kyran and I attended a fabulous Genealogy workshop hosted by the Central Arkansas Library System and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. The practice of genealogy has been poo-pooed by academic historians because they don’t think of genealogy as serious history. My guess is that most people (academic historians or the average gal on the street) think of genealogists as little white haired ladies hunting down every relative they can find from the local archives, trying to reach the holy grail of dead relatives (passenger on the Mayflower” or British nobility).
But genealogy is so important to the professional pursuit of history. And history can’t really happen without genealogy. Doing KCB’s genealogy was some of the most fun I had when writing my thesis. And I still love searching for Carson or Breckinridge or Lees on Ancestry.com to see who I’ve missed or what document makes more since now. The genealogy I do has nothing to do with my personal relatives and so I can call it history and be all professional about it.
While waiting for my friend to get coffee at the conference, a gentleman started chatting with me and asked me my last name. I told him and spelled (because it’s weird one) and he said something about Ireland. I responded with my now standard response, “No Swiss German by way of east Tennessee.” At the same time I was thinking, “how does that sound Irish? That’s a new one.” I didn’t understand until about half through the presentation that he was making a genealogy joke. Apparently the Irish don’t spell anything like it sounds (?) or immigration officials in the US spelled Irish names the way they heard them (?). Still not clear on this. But needless to say, there are lots of funny spellings in the hand written records when it comes to the Irish.
The funniest thing about going to genealogy conferences is the looks I get from other participants. You know how small talk at these things go… “what are you researching? what last names? what places?” I wish you could see people’s faces when they ask me how I’m related to KCB and I tell them I’m not! They can’t understand why you’d research a non-relative. Maybe I should just lie and make up some great story about being KCB’s great great great granddaughter from some clandestine love affair while she was in Russia. Maybe I’d make her lover Nicholas II…. Then I could be an illegitimate heir to the Romanov dynasty!!!! Oh the possibilities!!!!!