About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

folk music, facebook, friends, and family

It's been over 20 days since my last post. Well, I feel as if I'm right on schedule.

We just returned from the Glendale, Arizona folk heritage festival and it was a wonderful experience. The festival is run by young folks (so great to see young people embracing folk music and taking leading roles in making it accessible to the general public). I had the lingering effects of a bout with bronchitis so I spent much of the time in the RV, listening to the music drifting through the fence. It was a great way to recuperate! Butch had a wonderful time playing saw and teaching workshops in that and the spoons. We also did a half-hour show of Civil War songs and I taught a workshop on that subject. All were well received and we enjoyed meeting new musicians. We also were invited to camp at the home of a local "folkie" and that gave us more music at the potluck on Sat. night ... folks from all over Arizona joined together to share food and songs. We felt welcomed!

But now we are back home, ready for "real life." Both of us joined Facebook and are having some fun reading the comments by friends and family. Learned of a fire threatening our daughter's home in Arizona (while they were in Utah) and located an old friend from over 30 years ago. While I haven't gotten into the whole "comment" part of Facebook myself, I do enjoy reading the inputs of others.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Connecting with our ancestors and with other passionate genealogists

I just returned from the Family History Expo in St. George, Utah, and it was a great weekend! Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to attend the classes presented by my colleagues, but I did get to meet a number of excited genealogists of all levels. I was impressed with the number of people I met who are committed to doing thorough and accurate research and properly documenting their findings.

My husband, Butch, and I had a booth where we sold CDs and presented the music and instruments of our ancestors. A number of folks in neighboring booths enjoyed the music in the background throughout much of the 2 days and we had a great chance to tell people about how their ancestors relaxed with "homemade music." It was a lot of fun for us and, apparently, for expo attendees as well.

I also had the opportunity to present a couple of programs - my "Clue to Clue," which is a favorite of many, and a 2-part presentation on Federal Census records. Both were well-received and I connected with people who are researching the same areas that I am. One woman I met is related to a neighbor of my g-g-g-grandfather (in NY) and another woman told me that she is related to the family of a young boy who, I believe, apprenticed to my g-g-grandfather (in MI).

Part of the fun of doing genealogy is connecting with others who share the passion. When I show my exciting finds to family members and friends, most look at me as if I am crazy. At conferences, seminars, and expos, genealogists can connect to people who identify with the excitement of locating a lost ancestor, finding an elusive grave, or finally identifying a maiden name. That happened a great deal this weekend and that, in itself, made the event a high point in 2009 (and it's only March).