Saturday, October 1, 2011

Whoops! Forgot Where I Was

Sometimes I get so caught up in research that I don't remember to take into account how nongenealogists might react to what I'm saying.  A patron had come by the Oakland Family History Center to ask for my advice on how to research a relative of hers in newspapers.  I wasn't there, but someone took down her phone number for me, and I called her the next day while I was around people who have nothing to do with genealogy.  She told me that a family story said that sometime during the 1920's the relative had driven a brand-new car off the manufacturing plant grounds, picked up his two children (for whom he did not have custody) from school in the middle of the day, and headed out west.  So I said, "Okay, he stole a car and kidnapped the children."  Apparently my voice carried, because one of the women near me became extremely concerned and suggested I take my "very personal call" away from other people!  When I realized what my end of the call must have sounded like out of context, I apologized profusely.  It is interesting how 80-some-odd years can change the way you look at a situation, isn't it?


  1. So how did you advise her to proceed? And did the patron find her famous family member?

  2. I agreed with her hypothesis that the story probably would have appeared in the newspaper. I suggested she look for the family in city directories so she could narrow her search area and then use the Chronicling America site to get an idea of what newspapers were published for the time and location(s). Then she can try to find the newspapers online or on microfilm.


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