30    Oct 20100 comments

The genie in the lamp

the answer to our questions?Could a genie help solve your family history problems?

Although family history is becoming increasingly high-tech, there are those days when we wish we had a genie in a lamp.

After hours of fruitless searching for what seems to be a non-existent direct ancestor - although we know they MUST have existed or we wouldn't be here looking for them - it would be great to just grab that lamp, rub it a few times (depending on the version of the folktale you follow) and ask the emerging genie for help.

Genealogy conferences might feature workshops titled  "The care and feeding of your genie," "Getting your genie online," or "Polishing the lamp: Keep your genie happy."

According to folklore, of course, the problem is asking the correct three wishes, and we look forward to experts presenting workshops on techniques for constructing them.

Something else to consider: Would there be a difference between asking a polite question or giving a command to "dig up" the information we need? Does the word "wish" need to be included?

"Could you please find Uncle Melvin's birthdate" might bring a very different result from commanding the genie to "I wish you would bring me Uncle Melvin."

What are the three most urgent questions that your genie could help answer?

Continue reading "The genie in the lamp" »

28    Jun 20102 comments

Family legends: Shaking the tree

Genealogy conferences present opportunities to learn more about topics with which we are familiar, as well as new, not yet investigated subjects.

The recently concluded Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Jamboree presented numerous such sessions.

Sometimes there are sessions at which the proverbial lightbulb switches on. Such essential knowledge is transmitted that the participants then find it difficut to look at their own individual family histories in quite the same way as before.

All of us have family stories that might be termed myths. How can we determine whether a story may be fact or fiction?

A fascinating session on just this topic was given by Jean Wilcox Hibben. With a PhD in folkore, an MA in speech communication, and a Certified Genealogist, Jean is president of both the Corona (California) Genealogical Society and the Southern California chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild secretary and much more.

"Shaking the Myth: Proving and Disproving Family Legends" demonstrated the challenges faced by genealogists and family historians. Continue reading "Family legends: Shaking the tree" »

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