Blogs about the Art of Writing

Genealogy and writing go hand in hand. It is important to write up your research to see where you have been and where you want to go. Besides writing up your research a lot of family historians want to write their family story or a family history book. It looks like such a huge job even if you have broken it up into little sections. Still it will not get done until you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Writing for me has been a rather daunting process. One thing I have discovered is that the more I write the more I learn about writing and myself.

There are several different blogs that I follow with regards to writing. Some are family story specific and some are general. Here are a few of the ones I like in no particular order.

Tumblemoose is a good blog to help you start writing and to think about your writing style. He provides some excellent tips for overcoming the fear of writing. I think many of us have found the blank page rather daunting.

How Not to Write helps us to think about our writing and why we write. There are articles on publishing and the writing process.

Memoir Mentor is as it says – personal and family related writing. Tips and educational opportunities are provided. Her business is helping others write their memoirs. She reviews books that are memoirs or autobiographical and talks about how the writer approached the memoir format.

The Itch of Writing has the subtitle “Writing, reading writing, teaching writing and sometimes hating writing: a blog by novelist Emma Darwin”. I enjoy the way her blog shows you different ways of writing the same sentence and how the meanings can be different. How a words connotation can change the sentence. The topics of punctuation and grammar are examined. It makes you think about your writing and how you are putting words to the page.

Writing Forward has many creative writing tips and it discusses grammar. There are resources available to help you with your writing. A recent post dealt with The Chicago Manual of Style which described the manual and how it could help you with your writing. A writing exercise post helped you create titles and headlines. The blog encourages you to write and to keep writing.

These blogs are the few that I have found. There are many more out there that can help you with your writing.

What writing blogs do you follow? Leave a comment and let me know.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Do You Utilize the Resources at your Local Library?

Since the Internet has become so prevalent in our daily lives it is almost as if some people have forgotten the resources at their local library. Any library that is lucky enough to have available funds have put some of their resources online. There is still an awful lot of information that is not available online and it seems like a lot of people forget that point.

Do you know what resources are held at your local library in the local history section? I know my library has a special area for local history and all the books, maps, microfilms and other related items are held in that area. There are three microfilm readers to read the films that are stored in the cabinets. I know my library has the indexes to birth, marriage and deaths in Ontario. They also have all the census records as well as land and assessment records for my county. There is a small collection of year books from the area high schools. They also have historic newspapers on microfilm. These are not indexed but are a real treasure trove of information. The newspapers are only available at my local library and are not online.

Do you know the name of your local history librarian? If you do not I would suggest you find out as they are a wonderful resource for information on the local area. If the library does not have the information themselves then I am sure the librarian will be able to point you in the right direction.

Do you have a brick wall that you just can not seem to break? Maybe your librarian can help you chip away at it. They may know of resources that you had not thought of before. They may be acquainted with a special record that is not widely known about but can provide you with more information.

It is a sign of the times that the first place everyone turns to for answers is the internet. They forget the wonderful resources that are available in their own backyard at their local library. Why not make an effort to go into your local library this week. Have a chat with the local history librarian and see what you can find to help you with your family history research. If you cannot disconnect from the internet why not check out your library’s website to see what you can find. Maybe even email a question through “Ask a Librarian”.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Sunday Supper – Memories, Food and Music

Sunday dinner at our house was a constant during my childhood. Every Sunday was the same meal whether we had company or it was just us.

Mum would make roast beef. She would take the fat out of the crockery jar that she kept in the fridge and put it around the beef. Of course we do not make roast beef this way now, but that was the way the women in my family made it. The beef would go into the oven and the potatoes would be prepared for roasting.

Then the two veg…always the same…turnips and brussel sprouts. When we were children my brother would not eat the sprouts and I would not eat the turnip.

The dining room table would be set with the best linen, china, crystal and silverware. If it was a special occasion then there might even be a candle in the middle of the table.

Mum would call us for dinner and Dad would carve the roast. My brother and I would always race to be the first to ask for the outside end bit of the beef. At this time the family dog would take up his position under the roast, in case any little bits might miss their mark, all the while knowing that Dad would always sneak him a little something.

The plates would be taken out of the oven all nice and warm and the wine would be poured into glasses for my parents. Just before sitting down to the table Dad would turn on the stereo and play the Scottish and Irish music we grew up on. “Donald where’s your troosers (trousers)” was a popular one as was the “Wild Colonial Boy” Any time I hear these and other songs it takes me right back to the Sunday dinner of my childhood.

Of course, my brother and I grew up and got busy with our lives. Sunday dinner changed. It was not every Sunday but special Sunday’s. My Mum makes the best roast beef and that has now become our traditional Christmas dinner.

Sunday dinners were always filled with lots of chatter, laughter, music and good times, not to mention the wonderful food.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference

Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Knoxville Tennessee. This was the fifth FGS conference I have attended. Conferences are a great resource. They offer the opportunity to learn something new practically on an hourly basis.

You also get to meet some great people. I stopped by the booth for the Illinois State Genealogical Society who are hosting the conference next year in Springfield Illinois. This provided me with the pleasure of meeting Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers and as a result I am now officially a Geneablogger.

It helped that the bloggers at the conference were wearing beads and had a Geneablogger ribbon attached to their nametags. So when I saw someone with the beads or ribbon I asked about their blog. One such person was Greta Koehl of Greta’s Genealogy Blog.

The array of speakers and topics provided lots of new learning experiences. Of course, at least once, there is always a time when there are two great lectures that you want to attend but they are on at the same time. It is very frustrating to have to choose. Thankfully there is also a back up plan of purchasing a recording of some sessions. You have to hope that one of the two that you are interested in will be recorded.

The Exhibitors Hall is always a great place to find new items, meet people and just have a good old browse. I met Bev and Lew of Fun Stuff for Genealogists. I picked up a cross stitch pattern for a family tree. They had shirts, sweatshirts, mouse pads, charts and other things too numerous to mention. You can check out their website to find out more.

I had never been in Knoxville before so Wednesday was a day that provided for a tour of the city. They have a trolley service that is free within the city and thankfully is also air conditioned. It was very hot in Tennessee but then we have been having a similar summer here as well. A walking tour of the old city provided some interesting architecture and the East Tennessee Historical Centre was a wealth of information. I really enjoyed the exhibition of the Appalachian people through photographs, recordings and artifacts.

If you get the chance to go to a genealogy conference either the Ontario Genealogy Society Conference, National Genealogical Society Conference or the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference I would highly recommend the experience. You never know what you will learn or who you may meet at a conference.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

Alexander Lauder, Margaret Brown and Family

Alexander Lauder was a blacksmith, as was his father before him, who spent his whole life in Paisley Renfrewshire Scotland. His parents were Robert Lauder and Helen Forsyth and Alexander was baptized on 8 July 1810 in the High Church parish in Paisley. Alexander was the oldest of seven children.

On 29 November 1835 in Paisley Abbey Alexander Lauder married Margaret Brown. It is believed that Margaret was also born in Paisley circa 1814.

In the 1836 Renfrew directory for Paisley Alexander Lauder is listed as copper and tin-plate worker at both 17 High Street and 21 New Smithhills Street. He lived at 91 High Street. In Pigot’s 1837 directory Alexander is listed as a smith at 17 High Street.

Alexander is found in the first three Scottish censuses. In 1841 he is living at 10 Smithhills Street in Paisley. He is 30 years of age, a smith and born in Renfrew. His wife, Mrs. Lauder, is 25 and born in Renfrew. There are two children in the family Robert aged 4 and Margaret aged 1. They are both born in Renfrew.

In 1851 Alexander is 40 years of age and a smith master; he employs four men in his smithy. His wife Margaret is 35 and born in Paisley. The children are Robert age 13 who is already an apprentice smith, Margaret age 10, Elen [Helen] age 8 and Alexander age 5.

The family is living at 6 Cotton Street in the 1861 census. Alexander is 50, a widower, and an engine smith. His new job description is a sign of the changing times and the industrialization of the country. Robert, his son, is 24 and an engine smith. Margaret age 21 and Helen age 19 both are both spooler’s in a mill. Janet McNair Lauder is 10 and a domestic servant. Alexander is 16 and he is a plumber’s apprentice.

Although the census records do not show this, Alexander went through a lot in the years between 1851 and 1861. His wife Margaret was buried on 11 November 1851. She was 37 years of age and died of decline.

Since Alexander was left with a young family that needed caring for he remarried. Alexander married Flora McDonald on 27 December 1853 in Abbey parish in Paisley. Flora died prior to 1861 so he was widowed twice in less than 10 years.

Alexander died on 13 April 1865 in Paisley. He had been ill for six months with Phthisis. His son Robert Lauder was the informant.

Margaret Lauder married John Rankin. Helen Lauder married Robert Neil. Alexander Lauder married Margaret Paton and Janet Lauder, or Jessie as she was known, married George Forsyth. It is believed that Robert Lauder married Margaret Clark.

Paisley was known for the weaving industry and in particular the Paisley shawl but with industrialization many weavers were put out of work. The change of Alexander’s job description from smith to engine smith shows he was keeping up with the times. There is also a long history with thread making and up until the late part of the last century the industry was thriving. Paisley is also an ancient town and with the Abbey was a centre for learning. Paisley is one of the largest towns in the country and the largest town in Renfrewshire. There is also a strong connection with the Royal Stewart family. Its history reaches back past the sixth century.

High Street, Smithhills Street and Cotton Street are near the centre of Paisley and fairly close together so the family did not move far. They stayed close to the White Cart Water which flows through Paisley.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research