Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Military Service Records at NARA

A recent publication from the National Archives has come to my attention. It is an interesting new resource for family history and genealogy research. Military Service Records at the National Archives, Reference Information Paper 109 is a great resource for anyone doing military research. In a brief 120 pages, this booklet spells out the multitude of resources available at the National Archives. In addition, if the Archives doesn't have the information, alternate resources are provided. Finally, each chapter concludes with a brief bibliography of alternate resources that deal with specific topics within the chapter. Generally, the references are to the Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, or to the National Archives journal, Prologue.

For me, one of the interesting chapter sections concerns Confederate pensions for the Civil War. I find it fascinating that Congress did not authorize pensions for Confederate veterans until 1959! Assuming that a Confederate enlistee was as young as 16 at the end of the war, that would mean he would be 110 years old when the Confederate pensions were authorized! Although the records for 1959 are not yet available, it would be interesting to know how many Confederate veterans actually qualified for a pension.

More important, though, is that this book provides resource information for the 14 states of the Confederacy and the state pensions that were provided.

This is just one example of the multitude of resources that are provided in this slim volume. Mr. Trevor K. Plante compiled this work and he has done an excellent job in briefly summarizing the many sources available for military research in the National Archives

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

Some new discussions have recently arisen regarding names. I recently read an article by Ken Thomas in the Cobb County Genealogical Journal, Family Tree Quarterly, on the topic. In addition, Christine Rose has recently come out with the 5th edition of her work on nicknames and popular names. These works, along with others, raise some interesting questions.
In my own family, the children's names have created some interesting comments. My parents managed to find two unusual and three very mundane names for their children. My deceased sister is named Trula. Contrast that to Michael, and you have to wonder what my parents were thinking! After some investigation, and it took some significant digging, I found that Trula is of Germanic origin for the word truth. Other sources suggest the name is a variation on Gertrude, with Hebrew origins. My dad was always proud of his family heritage. He had an aunt Gertrude. So, in a sense my parents' naming patterns make some sense. I am omitting the names of my other siblings out of a sense of privacy. You will have to trust me when I say they tend towards family naming patterns.
The point of all of this is that as we develop family histories and genealogies, we need to consider name origins. They may provide some significant clues to the mindset of our ancestors and open up new avenues of consideration.