This edition of Tuesday's Tip comes from Sue McNelly of the Kindredpast blog.
Using Social History resources to expand the ‘dash’ between the dates.
Placing our ancestors in their social, historical and cultural environment can help us learn more about them and the events that may have affected their lives and the decisions they made. There is so much more to our ancestors than their birth date and death date. The dash between those dates represents a life and one which we can find out more about using social history resources.
Here are some of my favorite social history resources:
· Journals and Diaries: Not all of us are lucky enough to have an ancestor who left a journal or diary for us. Fortunately, many of our ancestors’ contemporaries kept journals which we can use to add to our understanding of their daily lives. Here are a few helpful sites. There are many more available online.
- Harvard University Library Open Collections Program ‘Women Working, 1800 – 1930’
- Documenting the American South (diaries, memoirs, and ex-slave narratives)
- Emigrant Diaries and Journals
- Operation War Diary (Diaries of the British Army on the Western Front, 1st
- Newspapers: While we all want to find our own ancestor’s name in the paper, just reading newspapers from the time period that your ancestor lived in, and in the particular place they lived, allow us a glimpse into what was happening around them. Some of the sites that I have found success with:
Library of Congress- Social History Resources: There is so much to explore on the Library of Congress
site. Efforts to use social history in our research is enhanced by
photos, audio recordings, film, maps, newspapers, books, drawings, poetry, and
manuscripts, all available here.
Looking for information on the everyday life of migrant families
living in camps during the Dust Bowl period of American history, it can be
found here. Looking for
photographs of Louisiana architecture including abandoned plantations and
other historic buildings, the Library of Congress has those. The collection is vast and you can
easily spend hours on this site.
· FamilySearch Wiki: Not only does the Wiki direct you to where genealogical records are but put in a locality and it will give you the history, show you maps and migration routes, direct you on how to research in that locality, show you historical resources available like county histories and journal articles. This is a greatly underused resource.
· A Vision of Britain Through Time: For those of us researching in the U.K. this is an excellent site for finding historical maps. They also have a large collection of British travel writing which is searchable by town name to see what may have been written about the town or city your ancestor lived in.
These are only a few of the many (many!) resources available to us to aid in fleshing out our ancestors and learning more about the events surrounding them and how they may have been influenced by them.
Sue has been researching her family history for about 15 years. Born in South Africa to her British father and South African mother, Sue’s roots are predominantly English with a little Scottish, Irish and of course South African, to add to the mix. Sue is currently the Membership Chair for the International Society of British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH) and is working towards professional certification. Sue can be found on twitter at @KindredPast and blogging at kindredpast.com.
Thank you for these great tips, Sue!
Social History is an important avenue for learning and understanding our ancestors.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Helping you climb your family tree,