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.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Sunday Singalong - Native American Heritage Month

As a genealogist, I'm often told,  by someone who told them, that an ancestor was a Native American. We talk about what was initially told and by whom (often a grandparent), tribes or regions of the country where the ancestor is believed to have lived, how to trace the lineage and some basic basics of DNA research when it comes to determining ethnicity. I don't do Native American research outside of my region (Southern California and the Mission Indian Tribes) and it's interesting to note how many folks don't realize that there are different record collections for the various regions and tribes in them or moved into or out of them. It is not an easy type of research if one wanted to be versed in Native American Research as a whole. Specializing is most likely to be what a NA researcher chooses to do. 

It being Native American Heritage month, I started thinking the other day about the various songs that deal with that ethnicity in one way or another (if we go way back into the annals of American folk music, we find some songs that are not altogether sensitive to the ploits of the first peoples of this continent where I live, but more recent poems and songs tend to highlight many of the civil struggles of the American Indian). 

A favorite song of my husband's is "Indian Song," by Hoyt Axton, where he talks about the inhumane treatment his grandparents experienced and how that left impressions on his parents because, as children, they were admonished never to to reveal that they had Native American ancestry. (FYI, that becomes one of the biggest stumbling blocks for genealogists since many records - e.g., Census records for the US or the particular states where "race" is to be filled in; around here, those who had Indian blood often listed themselves as Mexican, but they were also found to claim ethnicity as White, Negro, or Mulatto - the last of these isn't exactly wrong, unless one has a full quantum of Native American blood. Often the term used is one that fits best considering the reporting person's skin tone and/or facial structure.)   

So, here I want to share Hoyt's "Indian Song" recording, from YouTube; I'm just sorry that it's not from a live concert. But the 1971 album has a great sound. Hoyt's music and stories, etc. can be enjoyed more at the website of Ray Kawal.  

Photo below is of the cover of the very first Hoyt Axton album I ever got - totally impossible to play now, the needle wore clear through the vinyl on some cuts! But I have the CD!

Any songs that fit the Native American theme?

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Sunday Singalong - potpourri


Another week, another Sunday, another time of unbelievable sadness and mayhem in the world. People say they are moving to this place or that in hopes of finding peace and a good location for their families. And then the violence or other horrible event occurs "in their own back yard."

It's sad, but true, that some of the worst disasters spawn songs that are sung for years, decades, or even centuries beyond the initial action. I would venture to say that some folks singing about a war in Ireland are completely unfamiliar with the event, but the song has a good melody and the words are easy to sing.

This one has elicited many a laugh, but those that remember some of the uncertain times during the Cold War years, "The Button Pusher" is less than funny.

Any disaster songs that come to mind?