Friday, February 23, 2018

Are You Telling A Family Story?

Dates, Documents and the Truth
We all can find census records, vital records, and pieces of historical data recorded in big books and newspapers,  but what’s the real story.  These pieces of data proffer important dates, places and family names. From them we can get the who, what and when.  But the why is a much deeper question requiring the experienced genealogists to seek answers.  At a3Genealogy we look in three areas for our clients that is often missed.  Have you even heard of 1) social geography 2) medical geography 3) population geography?

Let me give you an overview of what should be included in your family history. If your hired genealogists is just giving you reports based on the who, what and when, your report is not complete. Family historians (hired or Aunt Mabel) should offer you a story. A story that includes the why. At least, provide us with the setting, the environment, the social influences, medical impacts, community involvement and events.     

The Why - Dig Deeper

  1. Social Geography: concentrates on divisions within society – class, ethnicity, region, age, geography of education and crime, conflicts, even local political influences, etc.
  2. Medical Geography: focuses on patterns of community disease and deaths, epidemics, how variations in morbidity, and mortality rates reflect local environments.
  3. Population Geography: concentrates on the local and regional characteristics of fertility, mortality, and migration. In genealogy we begin with a thorough census analysis. Highlighting your ancestors’ names does not suffice. A review of the neighborhood, community, regional and state populations can provide hints to migratory patterns, community divisions or community offerings.

 Interviewing Our Elders

During a Body Mapping session, the family historian will present the interviewee with an outline person traced on a large piece of paper. The historian should ask open-ended questions to facilitate visual storytelling, i.e. “What is the effect of being … ?” Instead of the interviewee giving a verbal response, the must draw out an answer on the Body Map. The result is a Body Map to display family, community and religion effects that may not be otherwise uncovered through traditional research means. Remember storytelling "The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think but to give you questions to think upon. (Brandon Sanderson) 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Open Air Schools - Where Are the Records?

Indiana first "Fresh Air" school, 1910
Indiana Historical Society Bass Co
What to do about Tuberculosis? 
Open Air School Coming to Idaho
The Kendrick Gazette, 23 Dec 1921, Image 6
You air it out of course! 
Tuberculosis was a problem around the world. According to The Forgotten Plague, PBS American Experience, "by the begining of the 19th century, tuberculosis, or 'consumption,' had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived." It difficult to find a family historian who has not identified at least one ancestor who was a victim or was housed in a sanatorium for tuberculosis - often to never return to the home. Few however, ask, "where were the children?"
Open-Air Schools and the Tuberculous Child in Early 20th Century America
Richard A Meckel, PHD, JAMA Network: Pediatrics
In USA we love to show the Netherlands and Soviet images during the period of 1915-1921 (approx) where open air schools, used to prevent the spread of disease, were common.  But this was also a practice in America. Providence, RI was the first "fresh-air school" or "open air school"  in America, established 27 Jan 1908 (Richard A Meckel, PHD, JAMA Network: Pediatrics). These "fresh-air schools existed until about 1938 - 1941, (National Library of Medicine).

A Few Great Resources
Open Air School in Connecticut
LOC: New-York tribune., May 04, 1919, Page 6, Image 74
At a3Genealogy, we have seen it from Connecticut on the east to Idaho on the west. Some records have been preserved. We suggest you begin with a thorough newspaper search of the region.

  1. Chronically America, Library of Congress online collection is a great resource to begin for a newspaper research
  2. State Archives have been helpful, but be sure to check county historical & genealogical societies and associations.
    First Open Air School in St. Louis, MO
    Bernard Becker Medical Library
  3. Medical Journals and dissertations and local doctor's papers can also be found at local medical school libraries.  The bibliography will provide great hints to original sources. This is where we usually find observation notes, and sometimes names. 
  4. Be sure to visit the familysearch catalog also for a limited overseas collections - mostly England. 

I guess we have to believe our ancestors when they tell us those stories of having to study and sleep in -10F temps.  These open air schools usually were often creative art intensive, and included one hour nap daily.

Did your ancestors go to an open air school?

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate Accessible Answers