Sunday, November 28, 2010

Welcome to the Historian's Family

Some time ago, I made a "lottery list" in which I listed all the things I would do if I won the lottery. One item was to research my family history properly and visit all the places they had come from. Then this past January, it occurred to me that I didn't have to win the lottery to do this (although I wouldn't be opposed to it) and that I could document my search in a blog.  I had a goal - set up the blog before the last episode of Henry Louis Gates' program aired. I met this deadline; but then did absolutely NOTHING with the blog.

Since the winter, this phantom blog, called Under the Family Tree, has been lurking in the back of my mind. I couldn't quite bring myself to do anything more with it. Suggesting perhaps it wasn't ready for prime time. So, I let it percolate. I knew I wanted to organize what material I already had, figure out what I knew, record family stories and share all of this information with family members. Then I heard Drew Smith speak on using blogs to document family research at the FGS conference in Knoxville. He pointed out that if you used your blog as a research log it could be accessed from anywhere in the world (well, as long as you had a computer and an Internet connection). I was inspired.

It seems that inspiration was not enough. Then, finally, "my" family history blog finally clicked, not just in my mind but in my heart. What differentiates me from other genealogists is that I am a professionally trained historian. I am proud of my academic research and writing (visit The Scottish Emigration Blog to learn more) and enjoy it very much. However, at genealogical events I am slow to mention my background. When I do it's akin to admitting to something embarrassing (like having toilet paper stuck to your shoe) or to something troubling (like an addiction). Why? Because I have been told, directly and indirectly, that historians are incapable of doing genealogy. And, yes, I'm still upset about it.

Being an historian and a writer are both part of who I am. I can not disown either in this family history quest to be or do what some genealogists think I should. Consequently, this blog will document this historian's search for her ancestors, stories about family members, and thoughts about both disciplines.  Please join me; it will be fun. Promise.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Amanda - well, at one point my husband did tell me that he thought my fascination with genealogy was a good addition to my addiction to history. Or was it the other way 'round? Anyhow, I am happy to see your blog and will follow it for hints and hurrahs. Puritannymous

Heather Rojo said...

Welcome to the Geneabloggers community. I will be anxious to read this blog, and I will check out your Scots emmigration blog, too. I live in a town founded by Scots Irish Presbyterians, and I have some Hebridean Scots in my family tree who arrive here via Canada. You definitely don't need to win a lottery to do this. I started as a teen by researching at a free archive, and I'm still doing this on a minimum budget. Maybe you need to win a "Time Lottery" though! LOL!

Gini said...

Welcome Amanda...it's nice to have you join the genealogy blogging community.

Along with Heather, I look forward to reading and learning of your family history and your professional experience as a historian. I have added your blog to my Google Reader list.

Amanda E. Epperson said...

Thanks all for the warm welcome. As the song goes, I think I will like it here.

Direcleit said...

Hi Amanda,

This is an exciting and excellent addition that I am sure many people, including myself, will benefit from.

I would suggest that one HAS to become something of a 'historian' in order to accurately pursue one's personal genealogy - surely it is only by learning something about the context in which we find our ancestors that we can hope to truly appreciate their lives?

All the best,

Peter

imagespast said...

Very pleased that you've come out from Under the Family Tree and I'm sure being a historian will be a positive BENEFIT to your genealogy research! Look forward to reading your posts. Jo

DianaR said...

Hi Amanda! I can not imagine why anyone would say that a historian is incapable of doing genealogy ~ I would think a historian would be extra qualified to do genealogy! So often I wish I knew more about certain aspects of history as I work on my genealogy.

I had the chance to visit Scotland (my father's side has quite a bit of Scottish ancestry) a number of years ago and would love to go again..but like you I'm waiting on the lottery for that.

Welcome!

Anonymous said...

I think it is wonderful that you are combining your interests and intellect into something to share. I look forward to the opportunity to learn from you (it wouldn't be the first time!). -Kirsten

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Welcome to the genealogy blogging community! I also have Scots ancestry - at least, I think I do, based on Dad's YDNA results. Will check out your other blog, too.

Greta Koehl said...

I have always thought that the best skills to bring into genealogy were those of a historian and a librarian. I brought neither, but I do rely on my husband to help me out in areas of history where I have little in-depth knowledge. Welcome to the genealogy blogging community!

Teresa Wilson Rogers said...

Amanda, I already follow your other blog and am looking forward to your family history journey. I too wish I could win the lottery to fulfill my genealogical fantasies. There are only so many things you can do from your home and there is so little free time!

Bill West said...

Amanda, welcome to the Geneablogger community!

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