Sunday, January 10, 2010

Presentation by Jean Wilcox Hibben

Our annual seminar and meeting had a very interesting daylong presentation. The speaker was Jean Wilcox Hibben a board-certified genealogist who has recently earned her Ph.D. in Folklore. Her dissertation project on "Family Folklore" can be found on her website at

The first of the four sessions led us through various stages of her research in "Tracking a Family over Time and Miles". Jean walked us through the steps of working from what we know of our families back to our unknowns. She described the various libraries and websites that might prove usefull in our research. From several lesser known locations she found genealogical gems that are found nowhere else.

Which brings me to a personal comment - I grind my teeth when I hear "newbies" to genealogy bemoaning that they cannot find everything on the net. Jean told about smaller genealogical societies that have only one or two volunteers available who have collected local information for decades. These small repositories don't have the money, time or expertise to put it on the web. Pardon me, "newbies" is a derogatory term. I meant "less experienced".

Her second session was an interesting description of "Deliveries in the Rear! Getting Family History Information through the Back Door." It is amazing the seemingly minor tidbits of family information that is stumbled upon in unrelated research. A search of a pension application can contain facts concerning a different family member. Wills and probates will often mention children and spouses that were previously unknown. Census records might have a surprising relative living in the research targets home. Jean described several of the backdoor items that significantly aided her research.

After lunch we had a discussion on "Communicating in Your Ancestors' Homeland: Understanding Other Cultures can Make or Break Overseas Research". The audience discussed the various definitions of Culture, Intercultural communication and Ethnocentrism. There were numerous examples by the audience of verbal and nonverbal communications and examples of how a person can unconsciously offend someone from a different culture.

The final session of the day drew the most interaction from the attendees. I'm speculating, but I think this was probably Jeans favorite session too. She spent the hour discussing the music and effects of the music on the lives of our ancestors. She concentrated on the music lore from our "Appalachian Ancestors: Their Lives, Legends, & Lyrics". Along with an interesting presentation, Jean and her husband Butch presented a number of songs from the Applachian areas. Many of these songs had morals and warnings incorporated into the lyrics. These songs have been passed down over generations and our audience joined in on most of them.

If you weren't able to attend the meeting, you missed a very enjoyable day! There are some photos of the meeting at SDGS Photo Albums

1 comment:

  1. Excellent summary - probably better than the one I'm about to send to Diane for the newsletter!

    Good to see you back in warmer climes -- Randy