Saturday, September 29, 2007

History & Genealogy - Not Mutually Exclusive

Elizabeth Shown Mills pointed out some papers presented at the Midwestern Roots Conference a couple of years ago (in 2005) that are now online at the Indiana Magazine of History Web site. Teresa Baer's topic introduction is there and is entitled "History and Genealogy: Why Not Both? An Introduction to the Panel Discussion." Curt Witcher's "History and Genealogy--Why Not Both?" and Elizabeth Shown Mills' "Bridging the Historic Divide: Family History and 'Academic' History" are also available. All papers are in Microsoft Word format.


Janice said...


I find the papers presented at the 2005 Midwestern Roots Conference to be "right on the money."

Not only does the blending of history and genealogy "put flesh on the bones" of our ancestors, but it also acts as an aid in presenting a personal history to grade K-12 students.

I recently had the opportunity, as my town historian, to speak with grade 6 students. Out of about 150 students perhaps 5 raised their hands to indicate they really enjoyed history. How horrifying.

Is the memorization of dates, places, and names really important? I think in our hearts we know the answer to that, and so do the kids.


Lori Thornton said...

I always loved history back when I was in school. I think I would have loved it even more if I'd known now what I know about my family. I never had a clue that I had ancestors who participated in certain events we studied. I had an excellent American history in high school, and I even won the DAR History Award, but I think I would have hungered even more had I realized then what I know now about my heritage.

Moultrie Creek said...

Several years ago, I had an email conversation with a history teacher at a small Alabama high school who - along with the English teacher - was using family history to teach both history and writing skills. Granted they had the advantage of having students whose families had lived in the area for generations, but they were able to bring history - especially of the Civil War - to a very personal level.

The students were bringing in letters and journals from ancestors who lived through Sherman's scorched earth March to the Sea. What a perspective!

Like Lori, I've always been a history buff. I did have some family stories to make a few events more personal. Not all were totally accurate, but they did instill the curiosity that's gotten me to this point. I've spent the time learning the historical events surrounding the family stories to understand the impact on my ancestors, but it's their tiny part of the event that makes it so interesting.

Ken Burns realized that too, which is why each of his documentaries touches so many people.