Monday, November 19, 2018

National Day of Listening 2018

This week we will celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, when people gather together in appreciation of their families and friends.  And because all those families and friends are gathered together in one spot, it's the perfect time to sit down and share stories, one of the best things you can collect as a family historian or genealogist.

In 2008, StoryCorps, a nonprofit oral history project, launched the National Day of Listening, when Americans are encouraged to record the stories of family members, friends, and community members.  StoryCorps designated the Friday after Thanksgiving as the Day of Listening as a contrast to the commercial perspective of Black Friday.

Make the time this Friday to interview a relative or friend and record that person's story.  Use a mobile phone, digital camera, videocamera, cassette tape, the StoryCorps app, or whatever you have handy.  Write it down if you have to!  (StoryCorps does have recommendations for questions, equipment, and resources for people to conduct their own interviews, since you have time to plan ahead.)  If you are with more than one family member, make it a family event and have multiple interviews.  Save those family stories and share them with other family members.

After Thanksgiving, if you have time and are in one of the right locations, StoryCorps has recording booths in some cities in the United States and also conducts mobile tours, where people can come and record interviews.  These must be reserved ahead of time.

StoryCorps has specific "initiatives" focused on oral histories from particular segments of the population.   Visit the site to learn about the Griot (black Americans), Historias (Latino Americans), Military Voices (service members), and Teachers initiatives, in addition to others.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

My friend's grandfather Zalmon Orloff served in the U.S. Army during World War I.  He was in Saumur, France when the armistice was signed.

Zalmon wrote letters to his girlfriend about every other day while he was in the Army.  For some reason, after he returned to the States and was mustered out of the service, Zalmon had his girlfriend type up the letters he had written and send him the typed copies.  This means that a hundred years later, my friend has copies of the letters Zalmon wrote, including the one he wrote on Armistice Day.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Saumur, France

Dear Sarah:

I don't know how to begin my letter.  The beginning though, does not matter anyhow.

The main thing is that the population of France, Saumur included, is gone stark mad with joy on account of the armistice signed this morning.

French and American soldiers, men, women, boys and girls are embracing one another and the words "GUERRE EST FINIS" were on everybody's lips.

The wine shops were doing a rushing business and the natural merriment was greatly increased by the artificial one.

Groups of Americans and French gathered around every corner and sang the Marsellaise on the top of their voice.

Every nook and corner was full of children, who, waving the tricolor or the Stars and Stripes, sang their favorite songs and exploded fireworks in your very face.

The French and American buglers were blowing every tune imaginable and I doubt whether Saumur ever witnessed a similar scene.

Have read in the papers the conditions of the armistice and about the revolutionary movement spreading in Germany.

Why, Sarah, it seems as if it were a dream and I have to pinch myself to realize that I am wide awake and the wonderful news is a real, genuine unadulterated fact.

I never expected that the end of the misery will come so soon.



Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Zigzag Ancestor Lines

There's probably an existing term for what Randy has come up with for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, but I don't know what it is.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) What is your father's zigzag ancestor line (NOTE:  I just made that up}?  In other words, your father's mother's father's mother's etc. line back as far as you can go.

(2) Tell us in your own blog post (and drop a link here in a comment), or on Facebook with your response.

Okey-dokey, here are mine.

My Father:

1.  My father is Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr. (1935– ) of New Jersey, California, and Florida.

2.  His mother was Anna Gauntt (1893–1986) of New Jersey, Florida, and Minnesota.

3.  Her father was Thomas Kirkland Gauntt (1870–1951) of Burlingotn County, New Jersey.

4.  His mother was Amelia Gibson (1831–1908) of Burlington County, New Jersey.

5.  Her father was supposedly John Gibson, about whom I have no additional information.

So I go back five generations on my father's line (and obviously need to do more research in Burlington County to get past that roadblock).

My Mother:

1.  My mother was Myra Roslyn Meckler (1940–1985) of New York, California, and Florida.

2.  Her father was Abraham Meckler (1912–1989) of New York, Nevada, and Florida.

3.  His mother was Mushe Zelda Nowicki (about 1880–1936) of Grodno Gubernia, Russian Empire and New York.

4.  Her father was Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (about 1858–1948) of Grodno Gubernia, Russian Empire and New York.

5.  His mother was Sirke (?–before 1893), for whom I don't even have a family name, much less the name of a parent.

And I go back five generations on my mother's line also.  I don't know if I'll ever find more information about Sirke, since Grodno Gubernia is the black hole of Jewish records.

I didn't do as badly as I thought I would.  I have one fewer generation for my father's family line than Randy did but one more for my mother's.