Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tika Learns About Washing & Bathing In Early Wyoming

A summer ago I spent a delightful couple of hours in the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne. This crusty old washtub caught my attention. The plaque reads:

Before indoor plumbing, early-Wyomingians would have taken their baths in tubs like this one. While today we may consider bathing to be relaxing, before indoor plumbing, it was a lot of work just to achieve hot bath water. Water had to be drawn from a source such as a well or a river, heated on a stove or over a fire, and then added to the tub. In the past, bathing was done much less often than today.

This tub would have been a good fit for Tika, or a toddler child, but never an adult! Folks must have used it as a pool to dip their washing rag into. Think of the old cowboy movies you've seen where the dusty fellow comes in from the trail wanting a bath and the scene shows him in a body-full-size tub. Yah, right. Maybe it was so, but just think of the amount of back-breaking work to achieve that tub full of hot water.

"Fine with me," Tika says. "I hate baths!"

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tika & Salem "Witches" ???

We visited Salem, Massachusetts, last May 2013. Everything there is, of course, "witch" themed. Even the police showed the city colors:

I do not have an ancestor that was involved in the notorious and awful Salem Witch Trials but if you do there is plenty written about this sad time in our history. Google Wikipedia for an overall basic understanding of these years in Massachusetts and then Google Salem Witch Museum. And I would have never guessed, but the Library of Virginia has a witch trials archives..... transcriptions of the actual court proceedings are available at this website:

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive

And what does Tika say about all of this? "Let me at 'em!" Bless her heart. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tika & Washington State Digital Archives

Tika was left home snoozing while I attended a meeting at our Eastern Washington Branch of the Washington State Archives. The building (on the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney) houses the Washington State Digital Archives too. Electronic/digital records upstairs; paper records downstairs.

Look at these old books......... vital records, deed records, state censuses, naturalization records and much much more. Odd things like brand books are there too. These are the things that our archives is digitizing and making available to anybody and everybody on their website:

Don't want to brag, but Washington is way out front being the leader in the endeavor to preserve and make available records online/digitally. How does your state compare???

Washington became a state in 1889 but there are territorial records going back even earlier. If you have any relative or ancestor conducting any business with the government (and all the records I mentioned above were our ancestor's interaction with government) then there is likely a record in the Washington State Digital Archives. Do you have an ancestor "who went west and was never heard from again?"  Check for him in our Washington State Digital Archives. (Seattle was a jumping off place for the Alaska Gold Rush.)

The meeting was conducted by Devan Donaldson who was conducting focus groups around the state as part of his research on how people feel towards a digital/archival image. "Is it trustworthy?" he would ask. But after the session we were given a tour of the facility, upstairs and down. Upstairs Devan got to hold the backup discs for the entire Washington State Digital Archives........... the entire thing in his hands!!!

Can you begin to fathom what this means? So very, very much information in so very, very little space. And available to anybody anytime. We do live in an amazing age.... for which I am very, very thankful.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tika Says "Unlock Your Potential"

Tika is asking me, "What does an avocado have to do with anything.... with genealogy?" Well, I'm thinking today about the tools to unlock your potential and there is a parallel here. An avocado seed is potentially an avocado tree that will produce hundreds more avocados but if it's tossed in the trash it produces nothing. One must plant it, nurture it and help it reach its potential. As I explained to Tika, I think a positive attitude helps with everything in our lives, and especially with our genealogy.

First, count your blessings every day. Surely give thanks for the sunshine, the flowers, your health, your family, etc. etc. but when have you stopped to consider all the ancestors you have found and connected to your family tree?

Next, start your day the night before. Radical! Before going to bed, make your To-Do list for tomorrow. Besides the mundane things of daily living, add the ideas you have to look for that ancestor/answer. Let the ideas percolate in your mind during the night.

Next, drop the attitude. Radical! If you think you're going to solve any of your problems or find any answers without effort, you might seriously want to re-evaluate your position. I have a little sign in my office which reads, "There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going."

Next, remember that ideas are not facts. Neither are feelings. It's easy to get in a whirlwind of negativity of can't do it - won't work attitudes, but such is not productive. Such unhappy mentality produces questionable facts and judgmental errors.

Next, set up and stick to a routine. We humans are creatures of habit and good habits make us feel much better and feel in control.  Such it is also with your family history researching. Without a plan you'll be spending time doing generalogy and not genealogy.

Last, enjoy a part of every single day. Daily life is seldom always sunshine and croissants and happy endings. Make it a point of seeing some good in every day and you will change your life. And will likely make happier progress with your genealogy!

Tika's reply? "I don't care what becomes of the seed, let's eat!"