Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday’s Tip – Expand Your Knowledge with Social History

The world wide web is an amazing warren of rabbit holes that you can explore and find yourself in places you never dreamed. Time can go by rather quickly this way, too. I set the dryer for an hour and went back to the laundry room later to find it was done. Had I really been surfing that long?
I was surfing (and doing laundry) the other day and now can’t even tell you how I got to this one website, but it was fantastic. It’s called PrimaryResearch.org. This a website for projects completed by high schoolers (but don't think that doesn't mean quality) through the clever ideas of teaching local history by history teacher W. Dean Eastman and others. It sparked my own interest in teaching the next generation, too. Websites such as this explore local history which can then contribute to learning the social history aspect of family history and expand your knowledge.
For example, the page on Intra- and Inter- Marriage Between Ethnic Groups in Beverly in 1895, 1900, and 1905, can help explain what life was like in the past and possible reasons for choices ancestors made.
Another good example is the article on Italian Community Organizations and The Patria e Lavoro Society of Beverly, MA. This article mentions Italian societies in other states (such as New York) and provides a reference to a book about ethnic Italian family patterns in the United States. So even though one may not have ancestors from Massachusetts, locating that reference might help someone find records from an Italian society in an area their ancestor lived, possibly leading to more information.
Just for the record, I don’t have family from Massachusetts or Italy…

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