Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sons of Irish shoemakers make a bid for the American presidency

It was with interest that I read about Megan Smolenyak's research into the roots of one of the current presidential candidates. Now she has gone even further and researched his running mate's genealogy.

Ironically, both men descend from Irish shoemakers who immigrated to America in the year 1849. For the latest on the story, see Megan's article on her Roots Television/Megan's Roots World blog.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are you an avid reader of all things Irish?

If you are both a lover of Ireland and a bookworm, you might be interested in the Ireland Book Discussion mailing list organized by Pat Connors of Connors Genealogy.

The list is ten years old but still very small with only a handful of posts a month. Most are brief recommendations for reading material on various topics related to Ireland. According to the website, the list is "for anyone who has an interest in books relating to Ireland Genealogy, Culture, Travel and/or History."

You might also be interested in the numerous links at the bottom of the information page directing readers to Irish publishers, book lists, book reviews, etc.

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Drumroll, please! Lisa's medal count

It has been a tough couple of weeks for this Genea-Blogger Group Games competitor. The hardest part for me has been the effort I have exerted toward fighting for free time to work on my events during waking hours and the endurance required of me to continue through some late nights and very, very early mornings. (Read more at my post Just call me a Michael Phelps wanna-be.)

I'm happy with my accomplishments and inspired to continue with some of the projects that I have started. (If only the games lasted a little longer!) I feel quite like an Olympian wondering how these "games" flew by so fast (it seems like the Opening Ceremonies started yesterday!) and wishing that it wouldn't be quite so long before the next will begin.

Here are the results of my efforts, and the resulting "medals" that I have earned in this, the first Genea-Blogger Group Games:

Category 1: Cite Your Sources


My goal: To cite as many sources as possible (documents, photographs, artifacts, letters, etc. that pertain to my family history).
Medal: PLATINUM
This is the one event that I got started on immediately, thinking that I could swiftly hit 50 source citations without much effort at all. It wasn't quite as easy as I thought, but I made it. Read my post The provenance of a hairbrush: thievery and the family historian for details on some of my efforts at turning my genealogy into bibliography.

Category 2: Back Up Your Data


My goal:
To prepare a comprehensive back-up plan for both digital and hard copy materials, store both types in waterproof containers and backup all data.
Medal: BRONZE
I created my backup plan and got a wonderful start on storing photographs in waterproof containers, but I am far from finished with the task of protecting my family history research. More to come in this area but unfortunately, it will be too late to move up on the "medal stand".

Category 3: Organize Your Research


My goal: To organize the loose file for each of my ancestral homes and family surnames placing into its corresponding notebook the documents and other items of importance, to re-organize digital genealogy files (currently living on two hard drives) using the same surname and place system where appropriate, to organize photographs (which are in many different sizes and formats) by surname, and to begin scanning many of these photographs in bulk (instead of one or two at a time, which I have been doing).Medal: GOLD
This is an area that I could work on for awhile! I've had a nice start, but have a lot more work to do. Within the boundaries of this competition, I have scanned 20+ photos and documents (I lost count a long time ago), organized 20+ hard files and ancestral items (including a hairbrush, of all things!), and organized lots of photos into protective boxes (I'm guessing almost 100, and that's probably low). This has been a great exercise for me to get things organized. I am only at the beginning of the project. I'm on a roll now... Too bad the games have to end!

Category 4: Write, Write, Write


My goal: To rethink and possibly revise the blog summaries that I've written on each of my blogs, to participate in both the "I Smile for the Camera" Carnival and the Carnival of Genealogy, and to prepare a few posts as drafts to be published when things get busier for me in September. I've already signed up to host a future carnival (my very own Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture), so that one's taken care of.Medal: DIAMOND
Writing is often the first thing that I gravitate toward doing. In this case, I tried to put some of these tasks toward the end of the games in order to accomplish the more tedious jobs of a family historian. In the end, I almost ran out of time, but I did accomplish a few things. I submitted a post for the 54th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy at What's Past is Prologue (my article is entitled The Hungarian language and the poetry of my childhood). I also submitted a post to the 4th edition of the I Smile for the Camera Carnival at Shades of the Departed (see If only this photograph had musical accompaniment). I have signed up to host a future carnival: my very own Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. (Read the most recent edition Looking into the heart of Ireland.) I have also begun a series of blog posts that will be published in the near future. (I'm not telling the subject yet!) I've also updated my Blogger Profile and my Facebook About Me page and written a post on each of my blogs entitled Who is Lisa and why the leaf? to give readers a little bit more background about me (well, just a little bit more).

Category 5: Genealogical Acts of Kindness


My goal:
To complete my application for the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, comment on a few blogs that are new to me, join the blog networks of other genealogy bloggers, and invite a few other family historians to connect on Facebook (new to me just this week).
Medal: DIAMOND
My genealogical random acts of kindness for these games have included writing comments on a few genealogy blogs that are new to me, specifically Kathi Reid's Ancestor Search Blog, Midge Frazel's Granite in My Blood, Melody Lasalle's The Research Journal, and Sheri Fenley's The Educated Genealogist. I've also joined many genealogy blog networks on Facebook. (Check out my Facebook page to see them all.) I've invited a fellow blogging friend to join, too. My most time consuming task for this event, however, has been the process of completing my application for the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. Sort of a "this is your life" in paperwork, it was an interesting exercise to put together all of the documents to prove that I am a descendant of my great-great-grandfather. I've completed the application and plan to submit it at the next meeting.



In conclusion, my final medal count for these games is:

PLATINUM - 1
DIAMOND - 2
GOLD - 1
BRONZE - 1

Congratulations to all of you that competed! We are all winners for giving our best at these "games".

Special thanks to the organizing committee: Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society and Library, Thomas MacEntee of Destination Austin Family and Miriam Midkiff of AnceStories. Thanks also to footnoteMaven for creating the logo and medal designs.

See you all at the next Genea-Blogger Group Games, whenever and wherever they take place!

Who is Lisa and why the leaf?

You can tell a lot about me by the entries and links at 100 Years in America, Small-leaved Shamrock and A light that shines again. I’ll let you guess the rest…

I consider each of my blogs a "leaf by Lisa". This is a take on a wonderful little short story called Leaf by Niggle written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published as part of his collection Tree and Leaf. It expresses one man’s desire to work on and complete something beautiful during his lifetime. Somehow life keeps getting in his way. You’ll have to read this little story to get the full idea and understand how his magnificent tree that turned into a full landscape all came down to one beautifully painted little leaf in the end.

He was the sort of painter who could paint leaves better than trees. He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape, and its sheen, and the glistening of dewdrops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint a whole tree, with all of its leaves in the same style, and all of them different.

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, from Leaf by Niggle

My three family history blogs are each a small leaf in the landscape of my life and my family tree. I have been researching my family history for many years in the midst of the busy-ness of life. I hope you'll continue to enjoy reading a little bit of what I've learned throughout my search, and be inspired to look at the world in a different way than you might have before you visited.

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.

~ Henry David Thoreau
If you are a regular reader of Small-leaved Shamrock or are just stopping by for the first time, I'd love to hear from you. Post a comment or send me an email when you have a minute. Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The provenance of a hairbrush: Thievery and the family historian

For many, many years I have been collecting documents, photographs and artifacts related to my family tree. I was a young girl when I first became interested in the stories of my forebears. Although I have taken a few breaks from my genealogical efforts due to life getting in the way (in terms of years at a time), along the way I have compiled a nice assortment of items related to my family tree.

One of the events which I entered as a competitor in the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games was Cite Your Sources! In the process of going through fifty of my various sources (a small sampling, but the number needed for a "platinum medal"), I have waded through some interesting items and tried to determine how to cite them properly.

Here are a few I've cited:
Perhaps my most interesting effort at creating a bibliographical reference was when I tried to cite my great-grandmother's ornate hairbrush and mirror set.



In citing my sources, I rely on Elizabeth Shown Mills' comprehensive reference Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. According to Mills' guide, a citation for an artifact (a set of grooming accessories in this case) normally includes provenance. The provenance "will typically include the identity of the current owner and how that owner came to acquire it".

Sounded simple. Until I started out with my citation...

Hairbrush and mirror belonging to Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey, Cowhey Family Collection; privately held by Lisa, [address for private use].

Now things got a little tricky. You see, the example from the book seems to indicate that the next portion, the provenance, would say something like this:

This hairbrush and mirror set was passed from Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey to [her daughter] to [her niece], from whom her daughter Lisa inherited it.

Problem: I didn't actually inherit it, I stole it.

Well, sort of.

Before you lose all respect for my family history methods (not to mention my character), let me explain.

As I child I often admired items around our home that had some sort of historical significance to our family: my grandfather's old business cards, needlework done by my grandmother, etc. My great-grandmother's hairbrush and mirror set was no exception.

One day, as a young girl (I'm not sure what age) admiring the set in my mother's bathroom, I took the liberty of moving it to my bathroom, thus "acquiring" the items for myself. They remained there for many years, until they later moved with me once I grew up and moved out on my own. Thankfully, my mother, who understands and appreciates my propensity toward genealogy, gave me her blessing and never returned the items to her bathroom. (So kind of you, Mom.)

As I set out to create a citation for these family artifacts, I didn't quite feel right about writing:

This hairbrush and mirror set was passed from Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey to [her daughter] to [her niece], from whom her daughter Lisa inherited it.

But this didn't quite sound right, either:

This hairbrush and mirror set was passed from Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey to [her daughter] to [her niece], from whom her daughter Lisa outright stole it.

So, getting a little creative with the art of bibliography, I considered this one:

This hairbrush and mirror set was passed from Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey to [her daughter] to [her niece], from whom her daughter Lisa proactively inherited it.

I felt I might have hit upon something here. Any of you genealogists out there ever "proactively inherit" a family artifact?

Actually, I finally settled on this description of the provenance of these family heirlooms, artfully avoiding the suggestion of my childhood method of acquisition:

This hairbrush and mirror set was passed from Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey to [her daughter] to [her niece], to her daughter Lisa, the current owner.

It looks like Elizabeth Shown Mills might have a new citation format to consider adding to her revised edition of Evidence Explained, if she ever ends up doing one.

Watch for a new listing: "Basic Format, Family Artifacts, Provenance: Proactive Inheritance".

***
This story has been submitted as part of the 55th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic is "Show and Tell!". Visit Jasia's Creative Gene for more stories about family heirlooms and other special items in family collections.

Have Irish roots but can't get yourself to Ireland?

Then get yourself to New York, at least!

The New York Irish History Roundtable will be holding a seminar on Researching Genealogical Resources in Ireland Long-Distance. The event, to be held the afternoon of Sunday, September 28, is open to the public.

This announcement from the New York Irish History Roundtable's Vice President for Family History, Jim Garrity, includes all the details:
The New York Irish History Roundtable will present the only New York City area appearance of two internationally-acclaimed experts on genealogical research in Ireland—Dr. William Roulston, Research Director of Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast, and Dr. Brian Trainor, the Foundation’s retired Research Director and the former Director of the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland. They will present an information-packed afternoon on researching genealogical resources in Ireland long-distance. The seminar is open to members of the New York Irish History Roundtable and the public.

Drs. Roulston and Trainor will give four lectures that focus on genealogical resources in a variety of repositories in the thirty-two counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. They will introduce attendees to many lesser-known resources. The afternoon will begin with a general introductory lecture, followed by specialized talks: "Introduction to Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research," "The Three Cs: Church Registers, Census Records and Civil Registration Records," "Gravestone Inscriptions," and "Not Always at the Bottom of the Pile." Time will be allotted for questions after each lecture.

The seminar will take place on Sunday, September 28th, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., in the McNally Amphitheatre of Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center, located at 140 W. 62nd Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues. Take the A, B, C, D, or 1 subway line to 59th Street-Columbus Circle. The price of admission is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.

Ulster Historical Foundation, established in 1956, is one of the principal genealogical research agencies in Ireland and a leading publisher of quality historical, educational, and genealogical books.
For more information about the seminar, check out this webpage. You might also be interested in taking a look at the New York Irish Roundtable Weblog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pennsylvania's 2nd annual Genealogy Day

The State Library of Pennsylvania has announced its second annual day Genealogy Day: Saturday, September 20, 2008.

According to the press release, the "free event will bring together genealogists from throughout Pennsylvania for a day of learning and independent research". Make plans to attend for info sessions on various topics and an introduction to historical societies that will be in attendance in the exhibit area.

For more information, contact Marc Bender of the State Library of Pennsylvania, take a look at the library's genealogical holdings or search its catalog online.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just call me a Michael Phelps wanna-be

It could be that I was a little ambitious when I entered all the categories in the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games (see the opening ceremonies here). It looks like I wasn't the only one. But still, I'm plugging away at my events, trying to "go for the gold" (or the platinum in some cases) in the midst of life as it continues at full speed.

If you are wondering why it has been so quiet here at Small-leaved Shamrock and my other blogs, it's because I've been focusing on sorting notes, citing sources, preserving pictures and other tasks testing my genealogical muscles. I may not be able to fit in the time to report on what I'm accomplishing (like some have done in wonderful detail), but I'm hoping that the Genea-Blogger Group Games committee will understand and award me for my hard work based on the honor system.

This "competition" has been a great motivation for me to focus on what I've needed to do for a long time: get my family history project organized. It's a tough time of year to do it, yet I'm not sure I have found any time of year better to tackle a new project. You know what they say: "No time like the present."

So, back I go to citing my sources. I've been burning the midnight oil since 2:00 a.m. (or is that another kind of oil) and making slow and steady progress. Cheer for me in the stands, if you like! I'm hoping that my efforts will reward me with a trip to the virtual medal stand at the end of these games, not to mention the intangible feeling of accomplishment that means more than any medal, virtual or real.


Note: You can watch my progress by checking Lisa's Games Tally on the sidebar of this blog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ellis Island's Annie Moore: found and remembered

Annie Moore, the first immigrant to be received at Ellis Island (back in 1892), was long thought to have traveled west, her final resting place lost to history. Two years ago her whereabouts were discovered thanks to the efforts of genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak.

Now with the help of many Irish and American donations, Annie Moore's grave (and that of her five children) will finally be memorialized. After October 11 her resting place in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York will no longer be anonymous but will be marked with a headstone of Irish Blue Limestone. The dedication ceremony promises to be a special one incorporating "both cultural and liturgical aspects", according to Julia Devous, Annie Moore's great-granddaughter. "We understand that Annie holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Irish American immigrants and their families here in America and Ireland."

Read more about the plans for Annie Moore's gravestone and its dedication at the Irish Echo online article's Annie will finally get her marker.

For more on the 2006 discovery of Annie Moore's final resting place, see Roots Television's In Search of Annie Moore.

Thanks to Megan's Roots Television blog for announcing the news about Annie's Moore's memorial.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Let the games begin!

The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games have begun! Make a visit to see the competitors' flags flying, including mine (also shown below). Let the games begin!

My flag is flying high for the Genea-Blogger Group Games!

In the spirit of the Olympic Games and in honor of my ancestors who have hailed from four different countries, I have chosen to compete in the Genea-Blogger Group Games. The event will correspond roughly to the 2008 Summer Olympics, but will involve competition quite different from what we'll see in Beijing. They might not seem like Olympic events to you, but activities related to preserving family history can sometimes take similar preparation and perseverance. Backing up data, scanning photographs, citing sources, preserving family artifacts: these tasks all take dedication (and sometimes even physical endurance, since I do much of this in the wee hours of the night).

In time for the opening ceremonies, I have put together my "game plan" as a competitor in the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games. Follow along with me on my three family history blogs as I work toward some specific goals during this two week period.

Unfortunately the "balance beam" event, which may have originally been on the schedule, was cut from the games. According to Donna Poinkouski, I was one of the favorites in that competition. (Thanks, Donna, for the vote of confidence.)

Kidding aside, here are my serious plans for competition:

Category 1: Go Back and Cite Your Sources!

Ever since I purchased my copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (actually, well before that) I've been meaning to spend some serious time citing. Here's my chance to get re-inspired about this project. My goal: To cite as many sources as possible (documents, photographs, artifacts, letters, etc. that pertain to my family history). If I make it to 50 or more sources, I'll be awarded a "platinum medal", so they say. More importantly, I'll be on my way to having my family history facts documented so that I can properly share them with others. Time to sit down with my copy of Evidence Explained.

Category 2: Back Up Your Data!

For the amount of time I've spent on researching my family history over the years, it would be devastating to lose my digital records, photographs and other documents for some reason. Time for me to stand back and take a look at how I am protecting the information and items that I have collected, and take steps to ensure that such a loss never happens. My goal: To prepare a comprehensive back-up plan for both digital and hard copy materials, store both types in waterproof containers and backup all data. If I accomplish this, I'll be "going for the gold" in the Genea-Blogger Group Games, but more importantly, I'll have taken steps to preserve items and information that would be irreplaceable for my family.

Category 3: Organize Your Research!

Doing genealogy in fits and spurts for so many years, I've collected quite a few pictures, documents and artifacts, not to mention scraps of paper and digital files. I've tried to keep everything organized, but these types of things grow and I need to play a little "catch-up". Inspired by the Genea-Blogger Group Games, I plan to make an effort to get my organization up to date with my research. My goal: To organize the loose file for each of my ancestral homes and family surnames placing into its corresponding notebook the documents and other items of importance, to re-organize digital genealogy files (currently living on two hard drives) using the same surname and place system where appropriate, to organize photographs (which are in many different sizes and formats) by surname, and to begin scanning many of these photographs in bulk (instead of one or two at a time, which I have been doing). If I accomplish all this (doing 20 of each task), I'll be a "diamond" medal-winner. Even better, I'll be starting of the school year feeling happily organized and ready for more research.

Category 4: Write, Write, Write!

The fun part of genealogy for me is fitting all the pieces together in the puzzle of my family history. That is one of the reasons that I enjoy writing my three genealogy blogs so much. As part of the Genea-Blogger Group Games, I plan to do the following writing tasks. My goal: To rethink and possibly revise the blog summaries that I've written on each of my blogs, to participate in both the "I Smile for the Camera" Carnival and the Carnival of Genealogy, and to prepare a few posts as drafts to be published when things get busier for me in September. I've already signed up to host a future carnival (my very own Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture), so that one's taken care of. If I accomplish all of these tasks above, I'll receive a "diamond medal". I'd better get writing!

Category 5: Reach Out & Perform Genealogical Acts of Kindness!

Connecting with others researching the same families, places and subjects is always rewarding. It is exciting to share with others what I've learned. My goal: To complete my application for the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, comment on a few blogs that are new to me, join the blog networks of other genealogy bloggers, and invite a few other family historians to connect on Facebook (new to me just this week). If I accomplish all these tasks, I'll be competing at the "diamond-level".

Think my goals are quite lofty? So do I, but I've learned that I work better when I set my sights high. Please wish me luck as I embark on this family history endeavor. I hope to make some exciting progress in these areas, and have some fun at the "games" along the way. Look for me at the "opening ceremonies" on AnceStories.


Lisa's "ancestral homelands flag":
Ireland, Hungary & Croatia together


In the spirit of Olympic competition and in honor of the homelands of myself and my ancestors (the United States of America, Ireland, Hungary and Croatia): Let the games begin!

Thanks to Miriam of AnceStories, Thomas of Destination: Austin Family and Kathryn of the California Genealogical Society & Library blog, the 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games committee who crafted the idea for this competition. Thanks to footnoteMaven for designing the games logo and the medals for the participants and champions. Let the games begin!

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