RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Seeing through the screen -- the truth about your genealogy

When I was young I was often fascinated with the visual effect of staring through a window screen. If you focused your eyes just right, the screen could appear to be a solid surface. But if you looked beyond the screen, the outside world became visible. Sometimes in research, especially in genealogy, we need to see through the screen to the larger world outside of our family. Once we have seen the world, we can then refocus on the screen (our family) with renewed insight. Most of our "brick walls" are really window screens in disguise.

No one lives in vacuum. One question was raised recently by a friend about his immigrant ancestor. His own personal brick wall. It turns out that this particular ancestor is Norwegian and immigrated in the latter part of the 1800s. Knowing the extent of genealogical records from Norway and other Scandinavian countries, I expressed surprised at his dilemma. To him, the Norwegian immigrant was a brick wall, to me, the immigrant was immediately a window screen. He was focusing on the screen, I immediately focused on the world beyond.

As an example of the world beyond the screen, especially for Norway, I would refer you to the FamilySearch Research Wiki on Norway. Reviewing the resources offered, gives a really good example of seeing beyond the screen with the Sogn og Fjordane Fylkeskommune -- Fylkesarkivet website. As the site says:
Fylkesarkivet also offers many other entry ways to local history – through themes and organized resources from the following domains:
• Music, film and oral tradition
• Municipal archive catalogues from the whole county
• Private archives
• Emigration to America
• Biographical and genealogical source materials
At our webpage we have organised and made available many governmental archive series which are kept in national archives. These include the oldest church registers, population censuses, census registrations, shift register, register of mortgages and land registers. In conjunction with the remainder of the historical documents such as photos, emigration records and the farm name encyclopaedia, these archive series constitute rich source materials well suited for biographical and genealogical research. (spelling in original)
Do you see what I mean by looking beyond the screen? And what's more important nearly all of the Norwegian records are free online (i.e. not yet purchased by Ancestry.com!).

By the way, you have never seen a detailed map if you haven't looked at the Fylkesatlas Sogn og Fjordane.

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