Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Creating family history isn't any easier than researching it!

I have several half-written posts that I had wanted to post this week (and last week), but I haven't had a chance to finish them. Our wedding is this weekend, going on a quick pre-honeymoon (we haven't planned the real thing yet), and then immediately moving to a new city. So I've been a little busy, and will stay busy for a while. It will probably be weeks before I do any more research, or post again.

Remember, the next time you look at a marriage certificate or wedding photo, that in the weeks leading up to it, that ancestral bride was figuring out guest lists, sending invitations, figuring out what to wear, completing her trousseau, and packing up her entire life in preparation to move out of her parents' home. She probably was not ordering favors over the internet, hiring a make-up artist, or having an engagement session with the photographer, but still - none of the major life events that are recorded for posterity are ever easy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Genealogy and Profit: A Hobbyist's Perspective

There is a robust discussion going on in the genealogy blogosphere this week, at Geneabloggers and elsewhere, about making money in genealogy.

I have perspectives on 2 fronts.

I've always had Google Adsense on my blog, but I recently also added affiliate advertising and occasional links (and a link to Ebates, because you can earn by referring others, but also because it's a fantastic site, and I think anyone who ever shops online should use it). (Yes, that was an affiliate link.) I don't expect to make any money from it, but I hesitated a lot before I did it, and I still have conflicted feelings about it. It doesn't bother me in the slightest when other bloggers monetize their blogs. So many of the bloggers in the genea-blogging community offer real services. Their blogs are informative, or very interesting, or incredibly well-written. The kind of material that people SHOULD be getting paid for. And since I'm not paying for it, well, heck, I'd be thrilled for Amazon, or Ancestry, or Google to be paying them for it. They DESERVE it!

But me? Little old me, with my inconsistent posting, my boring writing, my very few hits? Not only do I not do anything to earn money, I shouldn't even have the balls to attempt to make itty bitty bits of it. It feels . . . presumptuous, maybe. Or naive.

But I'm broke. I had a low-paying job, which I'm about to leave, to have a no-paying job as a housewife. (I'm getting married. Girls don't keep working after they get married.) If ads on my blog mean an extra $15 or $20 a year (which it doesn't, not even close - but a girl can dream), well, I'm at a point in my life where that's not much, but it's not nothing. So I added affiliate links to my blog. But I'm not sure it's appropriate. I'm a hobbyist. This isn't my job. I probably shouldn't be trying to get paid.

When I was most recently looking for work, I would occasionally be caught browsing or writing posts on this blog when I was supposed to be looking for openings or finishing job applications. I kept hearing it suggested - from my mom, in exasperation that I didn't have a job yet; or from a cousin, when I was sending him my resume one week and Grandpa's immigration papers the next - that I should just do genealogy for a career. "You like this, and you're good at it. Why not do it for money?" I kept pointing out that I'm not remotely qualified for that. There are professionals out there - people with training, with experience, with resources at their disposal, people who can write narratives, and cite sources properly, and all the other things that are involved in genealogy beyond just searching online and making the occasional visit to a local repository. I know a lot of the principles involved in good genealogy, things like the "reasonably exhaustive search," but I just don't have the resources to do these things for myself yet, and I couldn't possibly claim to be able to do something for someone else without ever having given it a try myself.

I think I eventually got my point across when I compared myself to my sister, a yoga instructor. "You studied yoga for years before you started teaching. You were good at it. Surely you could have just started charging people to teach them yoga? Why bother specifically getting trained as a yoga teacher? Instead, you waited and went through intensive training as a yoga instructor before you started charging others for your services; it would have been unethical, unprofessional, and possibly even dangerous to do otherwise. Genealogy is the same way; every industry has ethics and standards." (Granted, a bad researcher won't usually cause physical injury, but don't underestimate the danger of inaccurate "facts!")

Is a genealogy career something I might consider in the future? Absolutely. Maybe in a few years, if I'm a stay-at-home mom and our income is stable enough to allow me to make the upfront investment in becoming a qualified professional genealogist, it would be a good time. (Although, I can't for the life of me figure out how genealogy makes a good work-from-home career; I can't even make it a work-from-home hobby!) But I'm not qualified to make a career out of genealogy now, and I don't have the resources - or, honestly, the interest - at this point in my life, to become qualified. And it wouldn't be right to charge people for services I'm not qualified to provide.

**Just kidding about the working thing. I'll be looking for work after I get married, I just probably won't have it right away!

Monday, April 18, 2011

When a Family History Nerd Gets Married: The Bridal Shower

My fantastic sister Anna created this word search as a game for my bridal shower, which was a few weeks ago. As you can see, the list of words includes some of our favorite interests, like Ben's Redskins and my Yankees; the places we met, including Georgetown and Vital Vittles; and all of the surnames in our lineages!

(cross-posted at When Hoya Met Saxa)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mathew Madigan's Death Certificate - 11 September 1892

Yesterday afternoon, I received in the mail the death certificate of my great-great-great-grandfather, Mathew Madigan. He died on 11 September 1892 - the location appears to be given as 85 Lurfriese St., but it may actually be his home address, 85 Luqueer St. He died on the first floor of a house with 3 families.  His age is given as 51 years old, although his death notice in the Brooklyn Eagle gave it as 50. He was Irish-born, as were both of his parents, and had been in America for 30 years, or approximately since 1862. (I have yet to find immigration records for him, and his naturalization papers don't give an immigration date, but the earliest date on them is 1866.)

Mathew suffered from Gastro Enteric Catarrh for 3 months before his death, and was attended by his doctor, G.W. Welty, M.D., from 15 July 1892, through 10 September 1892. He died the morning of 11 September at 9:30. The secondary cause of death was Asthenia, or weakness.

He was buried at Calvary Cemetery on 14 September 1892. The undertaker looks like it was Jas. L Heart of 496 Court St.

I'm not 100% sure as to what Gastro Enteric Catarrh is. Catarrh is defined as a mucous buildup in the nose and throat, according to Google, but that's not gastrointestinal at all. The 1903 Text-book of the Practice of Medicine by James Meschter Anders indicates that it's a childhood diarrheal disease:

The 1907 A text-book on the practice of medicine by Hobart Amory Hare seems to indicate that in adults, it's more of a discomfort with possible vomiting:

Since the death certificate indicates that Mathew Madigan suffered from Gastro Enteric Catarrh for 3 months, it was clearly a somewhat chronic condition, not an acute attack of diarrhea or anything else, but I'm having trouble finding any definitions of chronic gastro enteric catarrh. The most "chronic" gastric distress I've ever had lasted about a week, and based on that experience, I am not remotely surprised that a 3-month bout of intestinal distress could contribute significantly to weakness and loss of strength, or asthenia.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

SNGF: You Might be a Genealogist if . . .

I'm honored that Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for this week was inspired by my post from earlier this week, "You Might be a Genealogist if . . ."

The ones I've posted in the past are:

You might be a genealogist if . . .
 . . . you know exactly what you want to get with your tax refund, and it's your great-great-great-grandmother's death certificate.
. . . your mother and sister ask questions like "What are all the surnames in our family and Ben's?" when gathering information for games for your bridal shower.
. . . you've ever gotten a message from your significant other that says "Happy anniversary - I renewed our subscription for another year!"
. . . you've thought of the birth of a new cousin as "making the next generation's genealogy."
. . . you got a little jealous when your boyfriend wanted to hang out with a former flame, but you got INCREDIBLY jealous when he received a copy of his great-grandfather's diary in the mail.

I'm excited to see what everyone else comes up with!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You might be a Genealogist if. . .

. . . you know exactly what you want to get with your tax refund, and it's your great-great-great-grandmother's death certificate.

Monday, April 4, 2011

WWI "Emergency" Officers, Camp Gordon, GA

Every so often, I Google the names of ancestors in hopes of finding anything that might be out there. It's not usually a successful endeavor. Last week, though, I googled my great-grandfather's full name - "Joseph Eugene Mulcahy" - and got a hit! (and it wasn't even from my blog!)

I had long known that Papa had been promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Army on 1 June 1918, since my cousin John had sent me a copy of that promotion, which I posted here, very shortly after I began this blog - but that was all I knew. Someone - who goes by "MaryCarol" - posted a list of all of the 1,744 men promoted to 2nd Lieutenant at that time on a Rootsweb Freepage.

The list of names comes from the personal paper of her grandfather, Captain Flag Allen Drewry, but there's no source given on the background information. It states that enlisted men were given 3 months' officer training before being promoted as "emergency" officers to replace those who had been killed overseas. What a pall under which to receive a promotion! Information on Camp Gordon, in Atlanta, where Papa was stationed, says that it was the largest temporary training camp in the South, consisting of 2,400 acres, 1,635 buildings, and could house 46,612 men.

Assuming the information is accurate, there are some fascinating nuggets that provide insight into my great-grandfather's military service.

(MaryCarol. "WWI 1918 Camp Gordon GA 1700 Promotions to 2nd Lieutenant."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?: Gwyneth Paltrow

Watching WDYTYA on Hulu, and I have but one question: What freakin' 1890 census were they looking at? Could they share?!

I'm sure they were looking at the 1890 Veteran's Schedule, or else they were looking at the looking at the 1892 NYS Census, which does make a fantastic substitute for the 1890 US Census. They were either approximating with phrases like "10 years earlier" and "in 1890" (?!), or just thought that mentioning that Gwyneth's ancestor was a Civil War veteran was irrelevant (?! again) - or it wasn't a census record at all. The casual reference to finding the family in 1890 really threw me!

Still, I'm loving how much time they're spending in NYC this season - that's where all my people came from!