Category: Mark Rabideau

December 2nd, 2010

YouTube (Traditional Genealogy Source #3)

YouTube has become another one of those traditional sources of information for me.  I never cease to be amazed by the good historical film footage available and easily identified.

If you were not already aware, I am a big fan of gathering, providing, and attempting to understand historical context of genealogical events and activities.  I believe, very strongly, that context helps place family decisions in a more realistic light. And videos, when done well provide visual, audio and even textual context.  They are simply wonderful.

In order to provide a personal anecdote (story) I would share the following:

My mother grew up in Nazi Germany.  Her family home, farm and possessions were lost to Poland as part of the Allied Ethnic Cleansing of Eastern Europe following the victory over Germany. Because my grandmother was sent to a Soviet Gulag, my grandfather was forced into Russian servitude, my uncle was in British captivity and my mother was in the American Zone… I never received or saw images of their loss, expulsion, or imprisonments.  I can assure you each event was important but all I ever had was small verbal acknowledgments of the facts and few tellings of the stories along with no images.

As a result, I have been searching and gathering images and stories of the time.  American, German and all western history tends to gloss over the time frame, circumstances and events- but not YouTube.  I have found a wealth of videos. Naturally, many are disturbing.  However, many are very informative.  I have a much better idea of the time, place and circumstances of my families post-WW2 life and events.  I have been able to build a context that otherwise I would never have attained.

Here are a few examples:

As I said at the outset… YouTube is a wonderful traditional source of genealogical information.  You never know what you might find there!

copyright 2010 Mark F. Rabideau – ManyRoads

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November 20th, 2010

Ethnic Cleansing (Traditional Genealogy Source #2)

One of the ‘forgotten’ aspects of recent world history involves the Ethnic Cleansing of Eastern Europe by the Allies after World War 2.  Reports and numbers vary with regards to the numbers of people impacted by this horrific, involuntary expulsion.  Generally, it is believed that more than 10 million people were involved and as many as 4 million people were lost, killed, or died through the process of ethnic expulsion.european-expulsion

If your family is of East or West Prussian, Silesian, Pommeranian, Russian ethnic German or Polish ethnic German descent, and if they were living in what eventually became the Soviet Bloc, then they likely experienced some aspect of this Expulsion.

In an effort to share information regarding the Expulsions, the European Community has established a group intended to serve as a platform to enhance communication and interaction between European refugees, expellees and people who support their rightful aims.

You may learn more about this subject here:

copyright 2010 Mark F. Rabideau – ManyRoads

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October 20th, 2010

Traditional Genealogical Sources #1

What is a traditional genealogical source? To me that seemed to be a good question. So naturally, I Googled the term ‘Traditional genealogical source’ to see what I would find.

The first item I came up with was the topic of a January/February 2003 issue of Ancestry Magazine by Mark Howells:

Tombstone inscriptions have been a source of genealogical information for centuries.

I could see tombstone inscriptions as being considered normal and traditional. Although with the way my brain works, I could also see that tombstones might rapidly be coming passe. As the article itself describes, today’s headstones are nothing like those of yesteryear.

Strangely, to me anyway, the next item I uncovered in Google was the ever popular “Ancestral Tablet”. Now I have a done a bunch of genealogical investigation and yet somehow I had never stumbled upon one of these. According to the article I uncovered:

These tablets were traditionally kept on household altars and in clan temples.

As we say in French “Quelle surprise!” Household altars? Clan temples? Neither were concepts or norms familiar to me for my forebears and my background. Because of my surprise, I examined the page more closely only to discover the document’s title: Ethnic genealogy: a research guide By Jessie Carney Smith.

Then it occurred to me that traditional was not traditional unless and until you understood and were familiar with the cultural context within which you were conducting your genealogical research. This ‘truism’ applied equally to both examples I found through the courtesy of Google. Although the first finding seemed natural and traditional to me; the second, well, was out of my ‘traditional’ frame of reference. But it certainly was not out of the frame of reference for folks with a traditional Chinese background and familiarity with traditional Chinese cultural norms.

So what is the take away of all this rambling?

  • In a global sense, there are very few things that are truly traditional.
  • Each traditional source is traditional within some context: cultural, historical, regional, religious, etc.

You really need to understand where you are seeking and what you might find ‘traditionally’. Just as happened to me, your normal cultural and personal filters could blind you to artifacts that ‘traditionally’ exist for those you seek.

I will explore other traditional sources in subsequent articles. Just in case…

copyright 2010 Mark F. Rabideau – ManyRoads

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