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.

Friday, June 5, 2009

History Immortalized in Song

I am going to go out a limb here and state that most, if not every, major event in World History has been immortalized in song. Now, some of those songs might not survive much beyond the event, but many are retained in the annals of folklore for centuries. Almost before the dust had settled (will it ever settle?), 9/11 was the subject of a number of ballads, most providing some sort of solace or therapeutic means of dealing with the horrific event. At least 2, that I know of, are still being performed. Singing about an event helps people remember the lessons learned, the feelings felt, and the specifics of the situation. In years past, school teachers used songs to teach the details of history to their pupils. I remember making up songs about historic events to remember the dates and names (then would sing them in my head while taking a test . . . unfortunately, I have always had a bad memory for lyrics and such an action did not guarantee me a good grade in history by any stretch of the imagination).

Next weekend (12-13 June), Family History Expos will have another one of their amazing seminar events (maybe I should write a song about them?); this time in Loveland, Colorado. I am honored to be their banquet presenter and, with my saw-playing husband Butch, we will do a musical "walk through history," highlighting events that formed our country and then were made more memorable as ballads. Not all songs will be traditional (created at the time of the event by people now nameless); some just remind us of the historic account. So, if you are coming to Colorado or are already in Colorado, come to the banquet and hear songs about our country's beginnings, wars, sad times, triumphant times, and more! Check this out at and, even if you aren't able to attend the banquet, stop by booth #316 and say hello!

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