Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Daughter of the American Revolution, DAR

Question 4-a.) of the Interview Question Form inquires about stories that can be shared. I find stories about an ancestor gives me a connection to that person. You can flesh out personality traits about an ancestor and if there are photos, you put a face to them. It's the next best thing to actually having known them when they were alive. Generations to come will have an idea about an ancestor they never had an opportunity to meet.

The other interesting thing that I have found is that I can make sense of traits I have in my own personality! "Oh, Aunt Marjorie sounds like me!" People love knowing where they came from, who they are like. Genealogists can help them find those answers!

So when you interview someone--and don't forget to answer those interview questions yourself--you are helping future generations in your line to have a connection to what will be their ancestors. That is a real treasure to pass on!

4-b.) Is self-explanatory. Dates are extremely important when you are documenting and although dates can get misinterpreted over the years, or errors are made, they are at the very least, guidelines. When you are trying to understand lifestyles over many years, eras and generations, you need to be able to correlate their time frames with historical time frames. To really understand the picture, you have to know what was going on around them at the time. I am talking about within their community, their county, state, country and the world! When you are able to put an ancestor within those time frames, you get a better understanding of that person and what they endured. Genealogists don't just acquire information, they attempt to understand the people they are researching. History and people are inseparable! That is a key point to remember as you go forward in your family research.

4-c.) Seeing if the person you are interviewing has any photos of the people you are inquiring about is extremely important! Obviously, photos are a real treasure to any family. But I can tell you from personal experience, when you find a photo of an ancestor that you never imagined would exist--it's like you just grabbed onto the Big Brass Ring!

In corresponding with a very distant relative who was also a genealogist, he shared a photo with me of one of my 4th great grandmothers! I never thought she would have been photographed, but she lived just long enough to have a photo taken when photography was a budding art! Mean looking lady, until I realized--looking at the time frame within history--dentistry wasn't prevalent! No teeth, or very dark teeth resulted in many "mean looking" photos during the early years of photography! Just a small example of understanding history when doing your research!

If you are lucky enough to find an old rare photo within your family, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1.) Old photos are very fragile. Handle them with care - you can even use gloves - as the oils on your palms and fingers can cause damage over the years. It is best to keep old photos within acid-free photo albums or acid-free boxes. This way, photos don't get damaged by handling as much, and keeping them from exposure to the sun will keep them from yellowing and fading.
2.) Many people do not want old photos leaving their possession for any reason. So, I always take my digital camera with me, or I use my phone camera! As long as the lighting is good, you can get a very good photograph of a photo. If the photo is in a frame with glass, then I stand on an angle off to the side of the framed ancestor and I find that eliminates glare from the glass when I take the photo. These are not the best conditions to have a copy of an old photo, but at least you have a copy for your records and you have not caused hard feelings by insisting that you need to take the photo to a copy place to scan, etc.
3.) If you are lucky enough to be able to take the photo with you in order to make a copy, be very careful there is nothing on the scanner to damage the photo such as dirt, oils, etc. Always return the photo as soon as possible, as you do not want to be responsible for damage, and also if more photos are found, you will be trusted once again!

Question 4-d.) refers to records in a family Bible, should that be an appropriate question depending on religious affiliation. Should the person you are interviewing have a family Bible, once again be very respectful of the wishes of the person who has possession. If they don't want the Bible removed from their home, then make sure you have your notebook and pen to record the information. Once again, you can also use a camera to photograph the information which usually can then be opened in a photo editing program to enlarge [such as photoshop] and read. You can then enter that photo as documentation in your records, but make sure you document when you viewed the Bible, where and who owned the Bible.

Keep in mind that once again errors can be made if the information was not recorded at the time of the birth, marriage, death, etc. But, family Bibles are considered a valid major source of documentation.

The next to last question, 4-e.), within this section is in regards to religious affiliation. Some people have no current religious affiliation, but their ancestors may have so you want to make clear that your question is for research purposes only. There are many ways to use the religious affiliation to track down further information on individuals. Churches/Temples, etc., will often have records of births, christenings, baptisms, marriages, deaths and other appropriate religious events of record that an individual might have been involved in during their lifetime. You can contact the institution associated with a particular religion to find out how you would access any available information for family research purposes. This is a topic I will address at length in the future.

Let's look at Question number 4-f.) of the Interview Question Form " Do you know of any organizations that our family has been affiliated with, such as the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution], Mayflower Society, Any Fraternal Organization, such as the Masons? Freemason? [These will end up giving you another avenue of research if there are any]"

For those of you who are not familiar with these particular organizations, I've linked to their respective websites so you can get a full appreciation of what they do 'straight from the source."

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a membership organization of women who are dedicated to their lineage and promoting historic preservation, education, and patriotism. Their motto is "God, Home, and Country." Some state chapters of DAR date from as early as October 11, 1890, the National Society of DAR incorporated by Congressional charter in 1896. DAR chapters raise scholarship funds, educational awards, preserve historical properties and artifacts, while promoting patriotism. They have chapters in all fifty states as well as in the District of Columbia, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The National Society of DAR determines which applicants are eligible for membership. Those women who can prove their lineal bloodline from those ancestors who fought or aided in the American Revolution can apply for membership. If you have a relative, with the same lineage, who is a member, you can use their research and prove your link to their lineage. There are guidelines to be followed as to what documentation will be accepted. Check out the DAR official website for further information.

The period of service that is considered is from April 19, 1775 which is the Battle of Lexington and November 26, 1783 which is when the British Troops withdrew from New York.

Anyone in your family who is a member of the DAR or Mayflower Society will have already proven the legitimacy of their lineage and this makes your application to those organizations much easier. However, you must be 18 years of age and membership is by invitation only by a chapter in your state or overseas unit. Once again, check out the DAR official website for further information.

In the next post, I'll discuss the other organizations discussed in this question on the form.

Friday, August 13, 2010

WHAT FAMILY MEMBERS DO YOU REMEMBER BEING ACTIVE IN YOUR LIFE?

Section number four, of the INTERVIEW QUESTION FORM that I've developed, entitled WHAT FAMILY MEMBERS DO YOU REMEMBER BEING ACTIVE IN YOUR LIFE?, will help you to amass a great deal of information straight from the 'horse's mouth," as they say. Here you want to take time to recollect the family members who have had an active part in your life, and try to remember any conversations you've had with them that will contribute to your research. Perhaps they have even told a story about an ancestor that was in their life. Even if it comes in bits and pieces to you, write it down because there may be another person in the family who can flesh it out for you. Remember, your role in this research is the role a detective plays. The tiniest bit of information can open another door in your research. You'll find that I say this time and time again because I cannot stress it enough! It's the single most important rule in genealogical research, along with keep your records in order! Again, amass the information you do know about the people that have been in your life. Following the questions I have posed for you in section four will help to guide you and joggle your memory! Bring out those family albums, ask questions about the people you remember and those you have no idea about! Someone in your family may know who that mysterious person is in one of the photos! You get the idea--just get out that detective hat!