I’ll be blunt: J.K. Rowling is my favorite author. I’ve read (and reread) all of her books, watched her interviews (including an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?), and I follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She has entertained me for countless hours, allowing me to explore my imagination well beyond the socially acceptable limits for those in their adult years. I am always looking forward to the newest material from the mind of Ms. Rowling.
A little while back, my mother gave me several pins which had belonged to her mother. One of them was a badge for the American Women’s Voluntary Services (AWVS), an organization established in 1940 that provided aid and assistance to the American armed forces and civilians. By the time Pearl Harbor was attacked, the AWVS had more than 18,000 members offering assistance ranging from food services to driving ambulances and administering first aid. [i]Continue reading One small pin→
My regular trip from Plymouth up to Duxbury this week was a pleasant, sunny autumnal drive. I wasn’t exactly tracing my ancestors’ footsteps, since I went up Route 3. (If they had gone overland, their trail would be closer to what is now Route 3A, and more likely than not, they would have gone by boat.) The trip is always a “homecoming” for me, even though my own ancestors have not lived on the homestead since John and Priscilla Alden’s daughter, Ruth, married John Bass and moved to Braintree in 1657. Continue reading The Alden Homestead→
Some family stories are so fascinating and memorable that they are passed down through multiple generations, becoming a well-known piece of lore; others, while equally interesting, get lost in the shuffle. The latter truism might explain the story of Christopher Taylor.
My role in this story began when my girlfriend asked me to help her work on her genealogy. As is often the case, the first several generations proved easy to determine through personal knowledge and well-kept documentation. However, upon reaching her great-great-grandfather, a man by the name of Christopher Taylor, some creativity was required.
Given that the British peerage system developed over time, its labyrinthine rules and unfamiliar nomenclature are not all that surprising. As feudal peerages – a somewhat amorphous class bound by land tenure and military service – gave way to peerages granted by the monarch, the rules governing titles and their inheritance evolved into what we have today.
Several readers of my previous post on the subject were perplexed by courtesy titles. The peerage system in the United Kingdom affords peerage holders and their immediate relatives a variety of titles signifying rank, some hereditary and bound to one holder at a time, others “by courtesy” and held by some or all members of a particular generation. Continue reading Courtesy titles: a primer→
This post marks the two-hundredth entry on Vita Brevis since its début on January 10. After ten months and more than 250,000 page views, and with contributions from 52 bloggers (and counting), the blog has established itself as a place to stop in and see how other genealogists work. Not every post is germane to every reader’s interests, but in the main the spirit of inquiry animates each entry, offering guidance about what approaches and resources help us in our research. Continue reading Two hundred posts on Vita Brevis→
While visiting the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston recently, I took the opportunity to look at their collection titled Charitable Irish Society Records. The Charitable Irish Society was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737, with the goal of assisting Irish immigrants in need of financial assistance or employment. It is the oldest Irish society in the United States, and is still active today. A number of the projects I work on at NEHGS involve Irish research, so I wanted to take a closer look at these records to learn more about the contents of this collection. Continue reading Hidden treasures in Immigrant Aid Society records→
There was no light-bulb moment when I discovered I wanted to be a genealogist, but by the time I came back from Kentucky, I’d done enough work on my family’s genealogy to decide history wasn’t so dull after all. It happened that NEHGS was hiring an assistant editor for the Register. I applied, was offered the job, but had to turn it down because of the salary. Sorry, but I also needed to pay rent.
As Fate would have it, I was employed by Honeywell Information Systems where I was introduced to the first word processing computer – the IBM Mag Card Typewriter – and discovered that computerized gadgets were fun to operate. Continue reading How I became a genealogist: Part Three→
As a researcher, I most enjoy looking through collections of personal papers. For me, seeing what items still exist is just as interesting as finding the data they contain. I have gone through family papers that I was told were “junk” and found information that I would have never found elsewhere, and which only exists because someone thought it was important enough to keep. It was when pondering my family papers and the records I create in my own research that I began to think about future genealogists. Continue reading Taking the long view→