Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2008 Issue

AE Comet: Genealogy & Local History - A Passion

Atkins

History of Middlefield and Long Hill - from Resource Books


By Bruce McKinney

Click here for the November AE Comet.

Genealogy is the history of people and local history the history of places. There was a time when the history of people and places were essentially the same but that time, for most, is long past. Certainly, old families and their descendants can be found wherever people live but overwhelmingly people, now freed from obligations to land and family, pursue, jobs, opportunities and better climates more and more as matter of fact decisions. It turns out humans like to move and that they were stationary only when they lacked choices. Since people have had increasing opportunities to move they have been on the move.

Changing location has not however always meant a loss of connection. Most people maintain some interest in the place they grew up. Many more retain an interest in the people they have known. With people moving so often the internet has facilitated a "connections" industry of sorts. Today there is Facebook and email and genealogy sites of all descriptions. Connecting in fact has never been easier or cheaper.

Some people more than others retain this lingering fascination with family history and place. For them the online genealogy sites are a way to trace roots and establish connection. A smaller group finds interest and satisfaction in local history often in conjunction with specific events. For them, book listing sites provide a way to locate material they may want to buy. Armed with such material they can do deeper research as well as read for pleasure. Such material is a portion of what's available in AE's Books for Sale.

It is said today that more than half of all adult Americans have done some online searches for their family history. That percentage is certain to increase just as the available online resources will also increase. It can seem like every fact is available online but actually it's not yet even close. You see so much we all often think we are looking for must be out there; the only problem is imperfect search terms. Better search engine algorithms and better search terms no doubt will improve outcomes but by-and large the information simply isn't posted yet. It will be but we still haven't figured out how yet to post all currently needed information. For instance it would be great to be able to look at Great Uncle Billy's civil war history but it will be even better if we could access our personal health records. Health records will get the priority over the next ten years. Uncle Billy will probably have to wait.

The material included in this month's Comet is intended less to show you a book or pamphlet to buy than it is to show you the kind of material available. For many families there are now associations but most of their sites focus on networking rather than providing extensive searchable data. It turns out that a single couple from 1650 today probably has thousands of living relatives. Tracking that one family is a hugely complex task. The truth is we are going to know much more going forward than we'll ever be able to rediscover about the past. The present and future are simply more important.

The material selected in this month's Comet is a combination of family and local history. If your name is Dubois there is a national association. Many other families aren't so well organized but you won't know until you begin to look. Your first internet search might be your family last name and the word

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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