I just recently finished reading the book Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Although it is intended primarily to promote women’s history, the book contains an important idea for all historians, particularly Genealogists and Family Historians. The point being that we need to search every avenue for clues and evidence of all history, we can’t simply accept the published and written records.
Dr. Ulrich makes the point that in Women’s History there is a serious shortage of records and evidence of the lives of everyday women. Unless a woman made news, most often through some type of “mis-behavior,” the records are sparse. In Family History and Genealogy, this is true for our female ancestors, but also many of our male ancestors as well. The result being that many of our ancestors, particularly the ones that didn't make the news, are quickly forgotten and overlooked. As Family Historians we need to willingly explore every avenue of research and information. Sometimes, we need to think outside of the strict areas of research and be willing to explore unusual records and evidence for the existence of our ancestors.
Well-Behaved Women has ignited new enthusiasm for my own research. I have several ancestors who have completely disappeared. I am determined now to think of new avenues of research. I hope to explore maps, legal documents, newspapers and other materials with a fresh outlook to find new clues about my ancestors and their lives.
Thanks to Dr. Ulrich’s book I have a new source of inspiration to push my research along.