Friday, February 17, 2017

Kickin' it with Nathaniel Lane Taylor and The Velvet Underground

"The more you make these pictures, the better you shall do them. That is the kind of studying you can do, and from the study of your fellows you shall learn more than from the study of all the text-books that ever will be written.
But to do this you must learn to sit very quiet, and be very watchful, and so train your eyes and ears that every sound and every sight shall be significant to you and shall supply all the deficiency made by the absence of text-books."
                    ---Frank Norris, "Novelists of the Future," The Responsibilities of the Novelist and other literary essays (London: Grant Richards, 1903), 207.

Even if it is not representative of our own lineage, we study the work of others. The esoteric. The works of those that intimidate. We do this because it pushes us as genealogists when there are no text-books on such expertise.

Nathaniel Lane Taylor's publications are the poetic, luscious, deep-rooted works that appeal to the senses in order to study and understand dynasties and kinships in ancient times. Recommended reading available at his website:
"Kinship in the Courts: Testimony of Kinship in Lawsuits of Angevin England."
"Inheritance of Power in the House of Guifred the Hairy: Contemporary Perspectives on the Formation of a Dynasty."
His thesis, The Will and Society in Medieval Catalonia and Languedoc, 800-1200.
There are several excellent book reviews also and when it comes to those, I trust Taylor's authority and insights.

The Velvet Underground surprisingly matches the abundant writing style of Taylor. Of any of The Velvet Underground pieces, I would pair it with the self titled album, mainly because "The Murder Mystery" is my favorite work of theirs (tied with "Who Loves the Sun.")

If you would like more subtle music in the background, I suggest the Hot Pipes podcast. Yes, the Hot Pipes podcast. Try it, you might like it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kickin' it with Thomas W. Jones and Franz Ferdinand

I didn't learn how to read until I was eight years old. When I was in Kindergarten I was diagnosed with a learning disorder, but the treatment was expensive; my daddy was a gandy dancer and my mom was about to have her fourth child at the age of 23 and I was the oldest --- they had to prioritize. I coped by memorizing the order of the words on the page. I memorized the order of everything ranging from streets in my neighborhood to musical notes to conversations:  Memorizing sequences was my compensating strategy. When Mrs. Anderson discovered my ruse in third grade (it was a report on Andrew Jackson that took me down), and taught me how to read aloud and inside, the first book I both read and comprehended was Anne of Green Gables. Now that book was a good time! I have been compulsively reading from that moment on. Memorization worked to eek me through high school (barely) and college, but a semester before I graduated from college, my husband and I were able to finally have me retested for a learning disorder.  With the proper diagnosis of Expressive Language Disorder, and the necessary allowances (quiet room alone for testing), I was able to raise my GPA from below a 2 to 3.6. I have known for years that I process things differently than others, my brain is on hyper drive, creating lists, timelines, references and maps of what I have in front of me. There are only a few items and resources that slow it down to be in the moment, and when I was first studying genealogy (and to this day), the audio lectures and articles of Tom Jones are some of those rare moments.

In the October 2016 issue of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, his article "Two James Greenfields from New England to New York" separates the interwoven timeline and identities of men of the same name, while also establishing a seed of truth in an undocumented online source, demonstrating how important it is for us to trace things back to their original sources (that provenance hunt). This article reminded me why I love genealogy so damned much.

Add some Franz Ferdinand to the mix along with some deep breaths and you will see that everything, everything, is gonna be alright.

The Record, NYG&B to get the most recent issue of The Record. Thomas W. Jones, "Two James Greenfields from New England and New York," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 147 (October 2016): 245-263.

Franz Ferdinand self titled album, Franz Ferdinand.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Kickin' it with Jean Stephenson and Wham!

I have a confession: I am a closet feminist. A few of you have known my secret for a while due to the socks I wear or my past Broad City references here on the blog. I am more of a first generation feminist than a second or third because my feminist leanings focus on education rights and the elimination of double standards. 

I grew up and was raised by factory workers. Men and women worked side by side and they all pulled their weight. It had nothing to do with a certain gender being unable to do something because all performed. I was never told that I would be treated differently just because of my gender and in all honesty, it never crossed my mind until I moved east.

I don't want to earn my place because of a statistical need for a person of my ethnicity or gender. I want to earn my place based on proven ability. It is a point of pride for me -- kind of like how I want to be a breadwinner and am fiercely independent. I want to blow up my balloon of success by working hard, not have the air let out simply because of the way I look. I have never used my body, family or circumstances to not adhere to a deadline because I want to keep that clock going.

As a society and community, we need to support each other. This is not about women rising up against men. In fact, I think women supporting women is something that needs to be more prevalent in society in general. When one woman is undercutting another woman based simply on difference of opinions or something simple like they way they look, we lose focus what we really need to do: support each other and raise the bar.

Jean Stephenson, one of the baddest genealogists you have probably never heard of, wrote a special publication for the National Genealogical Society in 1939-40 titled Heraldry. If you look at the history of heraldry in America and abroad, it was a male dominated field and still is. This was in 1939, people! Jean's knowledge is seen in black and white in this publication and is a must in your genealogical library along with any of her other publications. Study her career and see, clearly, how many glass ceilings she Super-Womaned through.

I was raised on Wham! and was saddened by George Michael's death, so I recommend this gem of a jam.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kickin' it with Bettinger and Metro Area

As I mentioned in an earlier post, 2016 was the year that I studied DNA so that I could better understand it and apply that methodology to my genealogy skill set. Fortunately, Genetic Genealogy in Practice was published by the National Genealogical Society and around the same time Blaine Bettinger's book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy also came out. I read them in that order and wished I had began with the Guide and then the NGS publication because that order would have taken me from a seed to tree blooming progression. Bettinger's common sense approach to explaining DNA appealed to the way I tend to learn. The Guide is a very aesthetically pleasing publication and the discussion of different tests and then the analytical application of them to genealogy along with visuals assisted in the methods sinking in. I also purchased Blaine's audio recording from FleetwoodOnsite from the 2016 FGS Conference on the Genealogical Proof Standard and DNA to assist with understanding. I think I will wrap up 2016 with a better understanding of DNA, but there is so much more to it to learn as it grows as a field, tests develop, and proof arguments are published.

Metro Area is the sweetest hold style music you have ever heard. When coupled with Bettinger's work, you can feel it sinking in.

Blaine Bettinger, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy.

DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standards, #27510, FleetwoodOnsite.

Metro Area, self titled album.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kickin' it with Genetic Genealogy in Practice and Alessandro Cortini

DNA is a wonderful thing.
DNA is not a magic bullet, but when corroborated with documentation of high quality, it can nurture a hypothesis. When DNA is not available, genealogists have had to rely on other forms of evidence, but down to the bone of it, DNA is a form of evidence and it should be consulted if you are fortunate enough to have it and understand it.

This year, I have had leads and a clunker with my own DNA and the testing of various family members.
  • I was able to verify the American Indian ethnicity of my great-great (whatever) grandmother with DNA, but had previously been able to assert that identity and ethnicity by applying the Genealogical Proof Standard, so the DNA evidence made the case stronger. Although it cannot answer directly "which tribe" she is from or "who her parents are," but when correlated with evidence by differing reliable informants, it meets the GPS.
  • I was able to find the lost sibling of a line, just sitting on AncestryDNA, waiting to be found.
  • I was able to verify, with DNA, a connection to a legitimate line on my father's side, that was previously proven with various reliable sources and application of the GPS.
  • I was able to get my sister interested in genealogy with DNA.
  • The downside was when I offered to a Ancestry tree match to purchase them a DNA test to see if we actually match in effort to triangulate, they declined after seeing me because they did not have my "kind" in their tree.
Like all evidence, DNA evidence can answer a genealogical question directly or may need other evidence (or in instances of autosomal DNA, may need other testers) to rule out or corroborate. DNA is evidence and ignoring it because it does not give you the 100% answer you seek is like ignoring a probate record because the child you are looking for is not listed as an heir --- all evidence, including DNA evidence --- should be evaluated when pursuing the answer to the genealogical question. What I enjoy about DNA is that it makes sure that we genealogists are not complacent. It ensures that we keep learning about DNA, about the ancestor, about the posed genealogical question, and pushes us to be deeper analytical thinkers to analyze that wondrous data.

In 2014, I attended the Institute for Genetic Genealogy when it was in Washington, D.C. It was an exciting and intimidating line-up of lectures. DNA education appeals to my abstract thinking, but until I had a solid understanding of DNA, I could not move forward. I was fortunate enough to copy edit Debbie Parker Wayne's excellent DNA column when I was managing editor of NGS Magazine and was able to come to understand how nuanced and complicated genetic genealogy was. This year when the National Genealogical Society published Genetic Genealogy in Practice, I was elated that I could take what I thought I understood and put it into practice. I was able to learn more about DNA and have it sink in because Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne wrote an excellent work that helped me understand DNA and the application of it effectively and correctly. It takes time and patience, but working on this workbook is worth it.

Couple that with Alessandro Cortini's Forse 1 and you have some nice background drone to help you focus. I enjoy Cortini's work because I imagine, if you could take off your space helmet in space (and not have your head explode), that this music is what the universe would sound like in outer space.

Genetic Genealogy in Practice (print version) at

Alessandro Cortini Forse 1.

P.S. Sorry for the delay in posting. When I am working on large writing projects, I stop reading other people's work because I do not want their voice to seep into my narrative. Fortunately, the project is done for now and the manuscript will be mailed to reviewers this week. More on my book in 2017.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kickin' it with Schützenberger and Sleigh Bells

""The dead pass down to the living," according to Roman law.
We continue the chain of generations and, knowing or not, willingly or unwillingly, we pay debts of the past: as long as we have not cleared the slate, an "invisible loyalty" impels us to repeat and repeat a moment of incredible joy or unbearable sorrow, an injustice of a tragic death. Or its echo."
---Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, The Ancestor Syndrome, xii.

A mentor of mine once said that people who go to college to major in psychology, go to see what makes them tick. I have often wondered if that could be done to those that we are tracing in lineages, to see their patterns, trends and processes to follow them. Why they do what they do. One of my favorite books to trace these behaviors is Devil in the White City and how H.H. Holmes morphs from one identity to the next; what are the portions of his true self that he kept with him during all of those transitions?

I found The Ancestor Syndrome in 2010 by accident. I was on Amazon looking for something else when it popped up. I decided to purchase it and I have not regretted it since then. It aligned with other publications like Psychic Roots and several Jung publications. The Ancestor Syndrome: Transgenerational Psychotherapy and the Hidden Links in the Family Tree is a trip of a book. If you want to look at things differently, specifically with how you do genealogy or how things are passed down, it is definitely worth a read.

It inspired me to write a piece connected to it. In November 2014, I submitted my premature brainchild, a genealogy "theory" piece on the introduction of "Geneapsychology" -- the merging of genealogy and psychology -- to NGSQ for consideration. It was declined and I agree with the reasoning because it was not a fit and not ready. Usually when a piece is rejected for publication, I let it sit and then see if there is anything worth saving, but I am letting this project sit for a few more years. I was happy to see that, as a coinkidink, Stephen B. Hatton's excellent piece in the March 2015 NGSQ titled "Thinking Philosophically about Genealogy," had some of the same reading/studying materials that I cited in my dead piece.

The Ancestor Syndrome: Transgenerational Psychotherapy and the Hidden Links in the Family Tree by Anne Ancelin Schützberger.

And you need something loud for this. Consider Sleigh Bell's Treats, specifically "Infinity Guitars" and "Crown on the Ground."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

To be continued...

I have been meaning to post here for over a month but was hit with three writing projects at the same time. I have several books ready to read and post here, including:
Genetic Genealogy in Practice
The FamilyTree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
American Indian Identity
Culture as History
Major Problems in the History of the American West
Digital Paper
Plymouth Colony
Memories, Dreams, Reflections
The Ancestor Syndrome
. . . and more.

Until then, have some fun researchin' and citin' like Timea Papp: