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 Luckily in the field of genealogy, we may think that something is out of date, but once a new term is attached to it, old become new and still relevant.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