Monday, May 23, 2016

Kickin' it with Donald Lines Jacobus and Edwin Starr

Donald Lines Jacobus' Genealogy as Pastime and Profession was one of the first tiny genealogy books I purchased and I read, but did not quite grasp the importance of it. Chock-full of Benjamin Franklin quotes that tended to distract me, I was worried that since it was first printed in 1930 and then updated in 1968 that it may be obsolete and not worth me really studying. How wrong I was. Luckily in the field of genealogy, we may think that something is out of date, but once a new term is attached to it, old become new and still relevant. :) Chapters include such topics as clients, puritans, royal ancestry, sources, law, dates and calendars, case histories, and other timeless subjects.

"He needs imagination, toned down by long training, and directed by sound reasoning. Especially he needs an excellent memory. . . A genealogist should not be opinionated, but should always keep an open mind and be ready to admit, on occasion, that his first conclusion was a mistaken one."
---Donald Lines Jacobus, Genealogy as Pastime and Profession, 44.

The only two issues I have with the book is the "he" state of mind where a genealogist is generally a male. Considering the time period, the number of leading genealogists at that time were men, I understand, but Dr. Jean Stephenson was around kickin' a#$ and taking names too. The other issue is the discussion, cut too short, on genealogy and eugenics. On a personal level, any mention of eugenics as a forceful word to make a powerful point is missed unless backed up with statistics, citations and grand examples because without those, it is merely a wordsmith sucker punch only meant to dazzle someone on the sidelines rather than provide constructive criticism.

When you read Genealogy as Pastime and Profession there are parts where it may be thick, but keep in mind the original audience and time period. If it helps, image you are in a fine leather chair, smoking a pipe with 1920s jazz playing in the background. Now, turn that upside down and consider the 1968 version, blast some Edwin Starr, note the historical vibes of that year and take in some timeless genealogy ideas and theories.

Jacobus Genealogy as Pastime and Profession
The Best of Edwin Starr

Monday, May 9, 2016

Kickin' it with David Mura and Digitalism

"What my grandparents experienced, what kind of people gave birth to and raised my father, all this represents an impossible knowledge. Does culture ordinarily form a net of remembrance, a safety guard against forgetting? Does it provide the individual with at least some clues, some vague outlines, from which to discern his family history? All I have are these doubts and feelings of loss, these questions which pull me on, step by step, a dance of folly. Over and over, knowing it is futile, I try to create my own myth of history." --David Mura, Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei

In a world where everyone is competitive rather than collaborative in order to be number one or to have more than others, we often forget why we do what we do and how we began doing something because it fed our soul. I began doing genealogy for knowledge -- to know the truth. I still do that for my family and for others because I believe that by studying and dissecting the past and seeing how it works (or failed to do so), we can understand the present to then be smarter and more prepared about the future. When we shed the obligations, competitions, territory fencing, we may find we only know about what turf we are protecting rather than looking further. We may disappear without knowing the truth and that freaks me out.

David Mura's book Turning Japanese had many captivating parts that fed my genealogy soul. Trying to understand our grandparents and parents when we are cultures and countries apart is hard, but Mura is able to convey this in a narrative that is quickly readable. And if you do not have Japanese ancestry, that does not mean it does not transcend other cultures and ethnicities. Trying to understand the core of humanity goes beyond ethnicities because the commonalities are astounding.

David Mura, Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei

Digitalism DJ Kicks for hours of non-stop thinkin' music.