Finding the context in a person’s life is one of my favorite things about genealogy. I love finding more than just names and dates. Occupations, addresses, family tragedies, world events, awards, military service – they all shape a person’s life.
My favorite places to learn about context are newspapers and city directories (for home addresses and work places). Censuses have some information that could be useful for context, like occupation or whether the person was blind or deaf. Divorce filings often have a lot of juicy details.
Here are some of my previous blog posts, for which I used a lot of newspapers and city directories:
Week 41 (Oct. 7-13): Context
I wanted to post a link to this interesting TED Talk I found by Isabel Wilkerson titled “The Great Migration and the power of a single decision.” Her talk is summarized as: “Sometimes, a single decision can change the course of history. Join journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson as she tells the story of the Great Migration, the outpouring of six million African Americans from the Jim Crow South to cities in the North and West between World War I and the 1970s.” This made me think about the decisions so many in my own family tree made (not as part of the Great Migration, though) and what would have happened if even one ancestor had chosen to stay.
Week 52 (December 24-31): Resolution
This interesting blog post from Newspapers.com explains what some historical causes of death would be equivalent to in modern language – https://blog.newspapers.com/historic-causes-of-death-and-modern-equivalents/. I know I’ve seen some apoplexies and dropsy on my ancestors’ death certificates.
I’m planning to sift through my family photos with some help from this blog post from Ancestry.com. – “How Old Family Photos Can Be Easily Time-Dated By Fashions“