I just received the March 2008 issue and couldn’t believe the timing of your article “Get ‘Em Talking.” Back in 1981, I interviewed my grandmother and great-grandparents — all have since passed away. For Christmas, I had the audio tapes converted to CDs and gave sets to my parents, brother, sister, uncle and cousins. I hadn’t listened to those tapes in more than 20 years, and they brought back wonderful memories. I highly recommend everyone sit down with relatives and record an interview. It brings your ancestors to life in a way paper documents just can’t.
I just finished reading your wonderful article “Moving Targets” (March 2008). I had let my subscription lapse several years ago, and this one article helps remind me how much this magazine can contribute to my research and genealogical jaunts just by sitting at home and soaking up information.
The dates and federal laws you outline impress me the most. I have been doing family histories for more than 30 years, and how I wish I’d had all that information before. Now I need to integrate that information in the files of my westward-moving ancestors so I have a better idea of the routes they traveled and why they moved when they did.
I found “Moving Targets” and its map interesting, but there’s no mention of the early migration south from Canada. One of my ancestors was the first white settler in Oregon. Several were brought from Canada to southwestern Wisconsin by a Catholic priest who felt the French Canadians suffering discrimination in the early 1800s just needed good farmland. Some of my Swiss ancestors came overland, in a wagon, down from Fort Selkirk in Canada to Oklahoma, and then up to Dubuque, Iowa, and Benton, Wis. If we were to draw immigration lines south from Canada, we would have a spider web of immigration, all the way south to Louisiana.
My to-do list for 2008 included planning a presentation on researching female lines, and what greeted me at my mailbox? Family Tree Magazine‘s January 2008 article “Ladies First.” Perfect.
I was disappointed that your January 2008 article on female ancestors did not accentuate the positive. The whole tone indicated female ancestors are massively invisible and practically impossible to find. No, female ancestors did not have their names recorded as often as male ancestors, but they were not invisible at all. They are mentioned consistently in legal documents, and frankly, I am thankful when I find a will of a man with married daughters and not just sons. His daughters’ married names give me far more information than 10 sons with his same last name and no indication as to who else they were, or whom they were associated with.
Defeatist statements appear throughout the article. In reference to newspapers, it says, “Women may show up in the pages with recipes, sewing hints, ladies’ club news and gossip columns.” Anyone who has perused real newspapers knows women’s names appear in every type of article. Their names were reported in local news; female editors published their opinions (including criticisms of men in the early 20th century and prior to that); women were mentioned as participants and organizers of community events, including those honoring men killed in war. Female students were mentioned in articles concerning school functions.
The article tells us “women are often the communicators in families.” Men are often communicators in families, too, and I think it does a disservice to elderly men (some who served this country at risk to their own lives) to indicate they would know nothing about their female ancestors or women of their own generation. To concentrate solely on elderly women in one’s families is purposefully ignoring a wonderful source of information in my strong opinion.
College Grove, Tenn.
No Free Lunch
In your January 2008 issue, you rated Family Tree Maker as a good computer program. I agree, but when I visited a genealogy Web site, I clicked on an ad to get a free copy of Family Tree Maker. What I got was an opportunity to receive all kinds of free offers. After going through pages for more than half an hour, I quit. I have since been getting spam like you wouldn’t believe. Something that was labeled “free” has caused me much aggravation.
Editor’s note: Anytime you see a “free” offer for a product you’d normally have to pay for, know that strings are probably attached. Read the fine print to avoid surprises, and be judicious about providing your e-mail address. The “price” for freebies is often that companies will ask to market to you via e-mail: They’re giving something to you now in hopes you’ll buy another product or service in the future. But you have to opt in or out when you register — you won’t get spammed simply by clicking Web pages or online ads.
Change the Date
Thank you for Nick D’Alto’s “Save the Dates” (November 2007), with all the useful explanations and Web sites about calendars and date conversions.
Something else to mention is the French Revolutionary Calendar (also called the French Republican Calendar). This 12-year experiment, which began Sept. 22, 1792, and ended Dec. 31, 1805, is reflected in government and church records in all areas controlled by the French: provinces in Europe, Canada and Louisiana, as well as all of its other colonies located around the globe.
The calendar’s months were given nature-related names, such as Germinal (from the Latin word for seed), Ventose (windy) and Thermidor (hot). The months were divided into three “weeks” of 10 days, and each day consisted of 10 “hours” of 100 minutes. When Napoleon’s ambitions to conquer the world didn’t succeed, he reinstated the Gregorian calendar — though the Revolutionary Calendar made another brief appearance in 1871.
Two references I’d suggest for tackling these date discrepancies are Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates and Universal Information Relating to All Ages and Nations by Joseph Hadyn and Benjamin Vincent (Dover Publications), which has English translations of the months’ names, and Acadians in Exile by the Rev. Donald J. Hebert (Hebert Publications). For your readers who have Alsatian, Canadian, Haitian, Swiss or, of course, French ancestors in the late 18th century, this should help them out with a baffling blip in time.
Evelyn M. Roehl