Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Confucianism and colonialism

There has been quite a lot of discussion about post-colonialism (though I'm still not quite sure what that is), but it seems that Korean post-Confucianism is taking on elements of colonialism, as more and more Koreans adopt Western feminism, and reject the values of confucian society that stressed the importance of family and blood ties.

donga.com[English donga]:
Heo La-geum, professor of women’s studies at Ewha, says she often sees students who do not use their surnames in her classes. “In certain cases, people used the surnames of both parents to protest the patriarchal family system, but some criticized that using the surname itself is jus sanguinis,” she said.

“Since Korean culture has been heavily influenced by the Confucian practice of stressing blood ties, some are trying not to use their surnames as part of a cultural campaign.”

Some Asian societies, however, have not yet adopted surnames, as we have seen in some Sri Lankan cricketers, who simply have one name.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Genealogy Software Reviews

A rather useful web site I came across the other day is Genealogy Software Reviews.

It lists over 550 programs with about 700 reviews, and you can add your reviews of the programs you like best, or those you hate most, or anything in between.

So if you've heard of a program and would like to try it, come here to see what other users have had to say about it, and if you do try it, have your say as well.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records

About twenty years ago the Genealogical Society of South Africa had a cemetery documentation project, which I was involved in for a while. The moving spirit behind it was Peter Holden, who was concerned about the deterioration of gravestones, which because of weathering and vandalism were being lost, and their information along with them. There were many farm cemeteries and no one knew where they all were, so he wanted both the graves and cemeteries to be documented.

Martin Zoellner and I worked on a computer program to make it easy for people to enter information on graves and cemeteries, either on a laptop at the cemetery itself, or from notes at home, and these could all be submitted to a central database.

The scheme got bogged down in a debate on whether the documentation should be an index of names and dates only, or a full transcription of the inscriptions. I favoured the full transcription because it wouldn't entail a second trip to the cemetery to get the full inscription later, and by the time one made the second trip it could have deteriorated even more. Eventually I got bored with the debate and lost interest in the scheme, but I know quite a lot of gravestones were recorded, and put on the NAAIRS computer of the Archives. Peter Holden died, and I don't know what happened to it after that.

Now I've come across a scheme that seems to do what I had in mind -- record graves anywhere and everywhere, with volunteers contributing as much as they can.

Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records:
Find Graves.
Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials, add 'virtual flowers' and a note to a loved one's grave, etc.

I know there are several local schemes for recording cemeteries, and some of them are on the web. But with this you don't have to record entire cemeteries, you can just contribute a few graves you have recorded. Of, if you wish, you can contribute bulk transcriptions, and they provide a spreadsheet template that you can download to use for the transcriptions.

Perhaps South African genealogists could take over where Peter Holden left off, and indeed go back over some of the ground to record full transcriptions where only indexes were recorded the first time around. It is something that local genealogical societies could do as a project, or individuals can do in their spare time.

Why do online newspapers never tell you where they are?

This snippet appeared in The Spokesman-Review. OK, in this example there are enough contextual hints to tell you that the paper is probably published in the US state of Washington, possibly in a town called Kettle Falls, but why doesn't that information appear in the masthead or its electronic equivalent?

Jim Kershner’s This day in history - Spokesman.com - Dec. 3, 2010:
From our archives, 100 years ago

Women’s suffrage was less than a month old in the state, but the effects were already far-reaching.

And Kettle Falls was apparently in the forefront.

“Kettle Falls is believed to be the first town in the state of Washington to name women as members of the city council,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

Two women, identified only as Mrs. E.B. Growdon and Mrs. T.L. Savage, had been appointed the day before as members of the council.

I was interested in the article because Growdon is one of the surnames I am interested in, but very often in such articles there aren't enough contextual hints to work out what place it is referring to.

And of course I'd like to know who Mrs E.B. Growdon was (if it was 100 years ago, she must be dead by now). And, knowing American customs, the "E.B." is probably her husband's initials and not her own. They may have given women votes, but their own names didn't come for another 70-80 years or so. So it probably doesn't refer to Mrs Eddy Beachler Growden of Alaska.

So I check my records. Yes, we have an E.B. Growdon. He was Edmund Blair Growden (1826-1850), but he was born and buried in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. But he also had a son, Edmund Blair Growden (Growdon and Growden spellings are interchangeable), born six months after his father's death, so he never saw his father and his father never saw him. He died in September 1926 and was buried at Colville, Stevens County, Washington, USA. So perhaps his wife was a candidate, or one of them.

One wife was Amanda H. McNeal, and the other was Mahallia H. Groom. Either of them could have been the Mrs E.B. Growdon referred to in the article. Or it could have been someone else altogether. Well, Jim Kershner, if you read this, it could answer your question, or at least give a hint. But I'm not registering with a Username and Password for a once-off comment in the Spokesman-Review of maybe some town in Washington USA, which I'll probably never have cause to read again.