Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Van's Ready: Time For "Speaker Mode"

Now that the van is packed, I'll be heading east to the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) momentarily.  Meanwhile, I’m in full NERGC “speaker” mode, at least for a while. 

Fortunately, my first talk isn’t until late Friday afternoon – in that last time block before “Happy Hour” (4:45 PM – 5:45 PM)

That talk (which, in your program is F231-   “Sixty Hours a Week, Ten Cents An Hour:  Records of New England’s Industrial Heritage”) takes on a topic that doesn’t often get much serious attention by genealogists. Still, it’s important to remember that if your ancestor – male or female – worked as a mill operative, a factory worker, even as a shoemaker or hatmaker, or any number of jobs, he or she probably spent more time with co-workers and bosses than with spouse and family. 

Decisions about where to live, where to move, where to shop and where to worship were often heavily influenced by a person’s job.  Job-related records were created that can help today’s genealogists in a number of ways.  Reports were written that can today provide insight into an ancestor’s daily life.  Things were published that contain key genealogical facts, most of which are never looked at by genealogists.

I’ll be showcasing several key industries and pointing you in the direction of records that can help you in your search for more complete information.  Plan on joining me late Friday afternoon.  I’ll work hard not to cut into your “Happy Hour” time.

The next morning, you can drop by for my “wake up” talk at 8:30 AM.  The topic might well pop your eyes wide open when you learn about all the records dealing with both public and private charity that still exist.  If the terms “outdoor” versus “indoor” relief, and the “law of settlement” are not in your vocabulary yet, or if you’re not sure about when the “Age of the Asylum” began or what it meant, plan on dropping by.  The talk is called “When The Trail Leads To The Almshouse And Cold Charity” (it’s S-304 in your program). 

One of the most important concepts that I’ll keep trying to underscore is that the records of charity don’t just deal with the poor; lots of folks find themselves in these records because of their occupations, empathetic natures or specific skills.  Think of it this way:  when we talk about the records of “medical care”, for example, we’re usually talking about more than just sick people.  We’re more often than not also talking about health care providers, hospitals & clinics and the folks who build and staff them, nurses, the drug industry, the medical equipment engineers, the whole ball of wax.  “Medical Care” is more than sick people; it’s a whole industry.   

The “public and private charity” thing I’ll be talking about as a lot like that.  A whole industry, producing voluminous records, naming names from all walks of life.

Chances are, you’ll find something of interest in each of these talks. Hope to see you there!

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