Patty Vitale lives in Germantown, Maryland. Born and raised in Massachusetts, she has lived in the Washington, D.C. area since 1986. She has a B.S. Business Administration from Boston University and a J.D. from American University. Patty is a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Hungerford’s Tavern Chapter, where she serves as the Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee.
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It is said time and time again that our immigrant ancestors came to America for a better life. What I often find in my research is that once they made the journey, they were met with hardship and heartache.
In 1845, my great-great-great-grandfather Terence Duross and his brother Charles emigrated from Trillick (Kilskeery parish) in County Tyrone, Ireland. They settled in Massachusetts where they were naturalized, married, and had children. Then in 1862, at age 36, Terence was struck by lightning and killed, leaving behind his wife and three small children. In 1876, Charles was killed in a railroad car accident at age 47, leaving his wife and six children ranging in age from 3 to 21. It was the not future they had envisioned, certainly. But given that they left Ireland at the time of the Great Famine, what choice did they really have? Continue reading Finding a better life→
As an avid genealogical researcher, I am keenly aware of the role that tradition plays in history. In all cultures, each new generation largely expects to follow traditions set by their predecessors, often without much thought as to why. Asking why is important. Challenging tradition brings progress. Haven’t the advances in civil rights over the past 100 years come largely from challenging tradition?
Recently I saw a discussion on Facebook on the tradition of a woman taking her husband’s last name upon marriage. A friend who had chosen to keep her birth name commented that she didn’t see any reason to change her name; she thought the tradition was outdated and paternalistic. I agreed, but I couldn’t help but notice that while she had kept her surname, both her son and daughter had their father’s last name. This has always been a tradition with which I had been uneasy, but until now I hadn’t been able to come up with a better alternative. Continue reading Making progress by breaking with tradition→