Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Should Lou Dobbs Care?

I’m definitely a night person. About ten o’clock I often get a second wind and find the later evening hours my most productive and creative. So I almost never see any of the late night shows. However, my daughter Vienna often records Late Night With Conan O'Brien and watches it during the day. She told me about a recent interview Conan did with Lou Dobbs of CNN, and how the conversation turned toward genealogy. (Wed. Jan. 16, 2008)

Vienna said that Lou commented that ethnic holidays such as St. Patricks Day were “silly”, and that he had absolutely no use for knowing where his grandparents came from. Thank goodness for the Internet. Within a few minutes I had pulled up the episode at the NBC website, and was able to see what she was talking about.

Sure enough the man who CNN’s website declares to be “an independent populist and the leading media advocate for working men and women, their families, our middle class and the American way of life” has no use for American heritage.

When Conan declared Dobbs the “face” of the immigration debate, and then reminded Dobbs that he has stated in his book that he is against days like St. Patrick’s Day, and Columbus Day, declaring that he is worried that they are damaging the country, Dobbs reply was succinct:

“Sure. I think it’s a silly idea. In 2008 in my opinion, we should be celebrating our similarities and commonalities rather than lurching along with (these traditional ideas.) The idea that because they are traditional we should have these (holiday) days, does not necessarily make them a good idea.”

“I’m an all American mongrel,” he went on to say. “I have no idea who in the heck or where in the heck my grandparents or their grandparents came from. I don’t even care.”

Why should Lou Dobbs care?
I hope that you will take a moment to comment on this question. As a genealogist, it’s likely one you’ve already thought through for yourself. It’s obvious that there are some folks out there who would benefit from hearing your thoughts on why we should care who are ancestors were.

And here’s a genealogy sleuthing challenge for you: Just who were Lou Dobb’s grandparents (and even better his great grandparents?) Email me to share your findings and I will feature the results in an upcoming blog posting.

And how did Conan O’Brien respond to the abolition of St. Patrick’s Day?

“This whole show is about me!!! So let’s talk about my ethnicity. I’m a 100% Irish. I am SO Irish! (the audience roared). “We are a great people!”

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Even A Labeled Photo Can Be Wrong - Exciting Find!

As family historians so often we yearn for family photos that have been carefully labeled, more often than not, are saddled with mysterious faces on unlabeled cardstock. But as the Library of Congress recently discovered, even a photograph that has been labeled can be incorrect and lost to historians - until now that is! Three images of the crowd at Lincoln's Second Inauguration were recently discovered at the Library of Congress.

It's a reminder to all of us that even a neat label on a family photo should be carefully evaluated before taken as gospel. I have a good example of this in my own family. I have a photo of a man and a woman circa 1900. The label on the back indicates it is my great grandfather Charles A Burkett and his wife Ellen Lynch. However, close examination of the photo reveals that the photo is actually two photos put together, creating the appearance that the couple are being photographed together. The woman's face was very familiar to me, not because she looked so much like my great grandmother, but rather her sister.

Close examination of other family photos revealed that the woman in the photo was indeed Ellen Lynch's sister Agnes! The photographer grabbed the wrong sister when filling the order! My suspicions were confirmed by my great aunt Bea, Ellen's daughter.

For more information on the Lincoln discovery:
The Los Angeles Times newspaper article
The Library of Congress press release

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division has updated the catalog records. To view the full set of photos, visit the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Here are the photo links:

Soldiers and crowd
Soldiers lining up
Soldiers lined up
People arriving (previously known image used for comparison)

The Library's American Memory online presentation "I Do Solemnly Swear" offers a special look at Lincoln's second inauguration, including the handwritten text of the address, which is part of the Library's Abraham Lincoln Collection in the Manuscript Division. Lincoln's second inaugural address, coming just a few weeks before the end of the Civil War, contained such stirring phrases as: "... With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds ..."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Audacious Austen Audio

Want to learn more about the Jane Austen movies being run as part of PBS' Masterpiece series? Check out the free Jane Austen Podcasts. Go behind the scenes of the ITV1 productions of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. England’s Classic FM's Lisa Duncombe speaks to stars who bring Austen's characters to life.

In iTunes at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=220173968

More about the series and video interviews with Andrew Davies the screen writer at the Genealogy Gems Podcast.

"Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way." Jane Austen, Emma

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Historical Fiction Fans Unite!

It's as natural as peanut butter and jelly that family historians are often fans of good historical fiction. I'm no exception to this. And since I can write about whatever suits my fancy on my blog, I'm happy to let you know about a wonderful series coming soon to a TV in your living room...

From PBS: "Masterpiece has good news for Jane Austen's millions of fans: PBS's beloved British drama series will broadcast adaptations of all of Austen's six novels, plus a new drama based on her life. It's the first time in television history that her books have been broadcast as a complete collection."

Sunday Nights through April 6 SCHEDULE

The Masterpiece Jane Austen Webpage

Watch a preview:

"How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!"
Jane Austen

Watch more videos about the series including interviews with the writer, Andrew Davies, at the The Genealogy Gems Website

Monday, January 7, 2008

Library of Congress Keeps Moving Forward

Twenty-one states are joining the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in an initiative to facilitate collaborative efforts to preserve important state government information in digital form.

In a recent press release, the LOC described how "states face formidable challenges in caring for digital records with long-term legal and historical value. A series of Library-sponsored workshops held in 2005 and involving all states revealed that the large majority of states lack the resources to ensure that the information they produce in digital form only, such as legislative records, court case files and executive agency records, is preserved for long-term access. The workshops made clear that much state government digital information—including content useful to Congress and other policymakers—is at risk of loss if it is not now saved."

Four major projects are currently underway:

"Persistent Digital Archives and Library System" by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Content will include digital publications, agency records and court records. States working in this project are Arizona, Florida, New York and Wisconsin.

"A Model Technological and Social Architecture for the Preservation of State Government Digital Information" by the Minnesota Historical Society. The project will work with legislatures in several states to explore enhanced access to legislative digital records. Content will include bills, committee reports, floor proceedings and other legislative materials. States working in this project are Minnesota, California, Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois and Vermont.

"Multistate Geospatial Content Transfer and Archival Demonstration" by the North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. Work will focus on replicating large volumes of geospatial data among several states to promote preservation and access. Content will include state and local geospatial data. States working in this project are North Carolina, Utah and Kentucky.

"Multistate Preservation Consortium" by the Washington State Archives. It will use its advanced digital archives framework to implement a centralized regional repository for state and local digital information. Content will include vital records, land ownership and use documentation, court records and Web-based state and local government reports. States working in this project are Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, California and Louisiana.

"The Library of Congress is eager to welcome state partners in our growing digital preservation network," said Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives Laura E. Campbell, who is leading NDIIPP for the Library of Congress. "These projects will help ensure long-term access to critical information for both Congress and the American people."

For more information on The Library of Congress' Digital Preservation Initiatives visit http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/

Netscape Web Browser Discontinuing

Since the mid-1990s Netscape (now owned by AOL) has been steadilly overcome by Internet Explorer, and has finally succumbed. AOL recently announced that Netscape Navigator will no longer be supported after Feb. 1, 2008. Read the Dec. 28 BBC News article on the change at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7163547.stm