Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Genealogical Advice from 1899

Yesterday Blaine Bettinger wrote about the relevance of an article in a 1910 issue of the Record for today's researcher.

Later yesterday I stumbled across an 1899 book in our library. In the opening chapter, the author's remarks could apply to today's researcher:

But one must, in the beginning, resolve to go wherever the progress of the work may direct, and to make a faithful record of all that is found. This is the only way to secure all the pleasures and advantages of the inquiry. The pleasures are many and not a few of them arise from surprises that one meets in the course of the work. The advantages are proportioned to the completeness of the information obtainable. To select for record that which pleases the fancy, or indulges pride of distinction, and to ignore or to suppress what may seem commonplace in our progenitors is to be untrue to our ancestry and to ourselves. Such a method results in a view of one's origin that is distorted, and therefore misleading.1
We need to present our ancestors as they were, not as we wish they were. We need to interpret their lives through the lens of the times rather than modernity. We need to be as proud of our farmers as our community leaders.



1 William Stowell Mills, Foundations of Genealogy with Suggestions on the Art of Preparing Records of Ancestry (New York: Monograph, 1899), 1-2.

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