“How is your celebration of the holiday influenced by previous generations?” asked a recent survey in The Weekly Genealogist. The first item in the list of answer choices was “I serve food or drinks that are traditional in my family.“ I quickly checked it off, as I was in the midst of baking, making sure that my kids would come home to the seasonal treats they – and now their spouses – expect.
One thing I have baked at Christmas in recent years is nisu, a sweet Finnish bread I remember eating at the home of my Finnish-born grandmother, known to all her grandkids as Mumma. When I visited Finland in 2012, a second cousin (granddaughter of Mumma’s sister) served it to me, and the scent of the cardamom took me back to my childhood. Continue reading Modern-day melting pots→
Before I began working at NEHGS in November 2015, I had a job where I interacted with between thirty and fifty different people every day. One of those people was a linguist, who, upon hearing me speak, said, “You aren’t from here.” She was right. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I grew up in northern New Hampshire and moved to Massachusetts in 2011.
I said to her, “No, I’m not from Massachusetts. I’m a transplant.”
The British constitutional historian Walter Bagehot (1826–1877) wrote that “When there is a select committee on the Queen, the charm of royalty will be gone. Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic.” There is something uncanny about royalty, a mystique that can be hard to value according to its merits. This phrase of Bagehot’s – with its reference to “mystery” and “magic” – came to mind as I was thinking about the question of morganatic marriages in Germany. Continue reading “Daylight upon magic”→
Every so often it seems worthwhile to look back over the wide range of Vita Brevis posts and bring some related ones together in one spot. Now that we are half way through the calendar year, some posts on international genealogical research merit a second look. In January, Eileen Pironti wrote about “Reconnecting with family”: in her case, her Irish family in County Roscommon: Continue reading International research posts at Vita Brevis→
In the years after the American Civil War, an influx of immigrants from Scandinavia settled in the United States. Pushed from their homelands by famine, overpopulation, and lack of economic opportunities, these Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, and Danes poured into the country. In particular, they were drawn to the American Midwest, where large tracts of fertile farmland were abundant. Here they established their own communities, where they spoke their mother language, established their own churches, and even published their own newspapers. Today many Americans can claim Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Danish ancestry. And if you are one of these Americans, you may be apprehensive about researching these ancestors because of the language barrier. Don’t be; with the right base of knowledge and a little practice, you’ll be well on your way to uncovering your Scandinavian roots. Continue reading My family is Scandinavian . . . now what?!→