"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, 17 February 2012

On the news

Life kind of took over this week and I haven’t managed to post for a few days. To be honest, I’ve had a bit of ‘writer’s block’, plus I’ve been dedicating quite a bit of my time to some family history projects (which I will tell you about later).

But first: In search of inspiration, I turned to news, and found a few interesting articles to share – with just a brief comment on each.

First, the death at the age of 110 of Britain’s last First World War veteran.
What I liked about this story:

a) The fact that it was a female story of from the First World War, where we tend to get more 'male' accounts. I’m aware that I might be making myself sound a bit of a feminist, which I’m not really, but I do think that people in general people are drawn to stories that reflect their own gender experiences. I started my research with my female line and I have tended to lean towards the female stories rather than the male I think.  

b) That her contribution only came to light through someone’s research. It reflects on the people of that generation and on their times that she never ‘blew her own trumpet’. Whereas now we regard the actions of those involved in the war as heroic and admirable, Florence Green’s reticence reminds us that to them it was just their duty, their daily life, albeit in extraordinary circumstances. It also serves as a reminder that there are so many amazing stories waiting to be uncovered in the course of our research – it’s stories like this one that inspire and motivate me in my labours!

Next, the question: Were extreme suffragettes regarded as terrorists?

This story highlights the differences in perspective that occur over time, how views and standards have changed. I can’t imagine not having the right to vote, and yet when you think about the kinds of actions these women took, it is easy to see why they might have been considered terrorists – they were putting themselves and others in danger in a bid to overturn what was an established social and political order.  It reminds us that when we do think about social groups, whether class, gender or race, we have to be careful not to apply our own standards to the past.

I loved this article too: U.S. Government Still Pays Two Civil War Pensions.

I did the maths, and as far as I can tell, they must be well into their hundreds, and their fathers were likely to have been into their sixties when they fathered them. It’s almost unbelievable that there are people out there still alive who could have heard a first-hand account of a war that ended nearly 150 years ago! It reminds me that even though times have changed, this kind of history is still not all that long ago, and it makes my struggles with tracing as far back as the 1880s seem ridiculous really!

Last but not least: MI5 spied on Charlie Chaplin after FBI asked for help to banish him from US.

The interesting thing here isn’t that they thought he was a threat, but that the authorities found it impossible to find a registered birth for Chaplin – sound familiar anyone? And then there’s the family letter mentioned – if only I could find one of these for one of my unanswered questions!

So, that’s my little round up of pertinent news for the week. I’ll try to write something a little more substantial for you next weekend. Happy weekend all!

L x

1 comment:

  1. http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/mi5-file-opens-new-chapter-in-chaplin-mystery/


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