To do a good job in your family genealogy research means hard work. Most of us know the time consuming and tedious search for records and then checking and comparing them. Also making sure you have the proper source citations so you and others can find the way back to the proof of your findings. Then once you have done all that you only have a bare bone family genealogy. Next, you must try and tell your ancestor’s story. Telling this story will involve more research. Looking up newspapers, reading old letters, perhaps being able to interview some of your older relatives, will be some more steps you will have to take. If you are one of the rare lucky ones, your ancestors kept detailed diaries that have been handed down over the years. Even if you have the letters, newspaper articles, and a diary, you still may not have a complete understanding of the times and events that they lived through. What you need even with or without all the great items named is a working understanding of the history of your ancestor’s lifetimeI recently read “One Summer America, 1927” by Bill Bryson. Please do not let the title fool you. While the book does center on the events of the summer of 1927, it is an excellent source for the flavor of daily life in the first part of the 20th century. The book is a fun read that captures the time, people, of the era, and of course the events of the summer in 1927.
You will read about crime, Lindbergh’s flight, Babe Ruth’s 60 home run season, the Mississippi Flood, and much more. Newspapers and magazines in this period were shaping and influencing our daily life with readerships so huge it is hard to imagine today. Immigrants were in the news also. Ill-feeling was being shown toward some of our new citizens’ such as Italians. Those of the Jewish faith also found that they were not always welcome with open arms. Once you have read this book, you will have a much better understanding of life in the first part of the 20th century. By having that understanding, your ancestors will come closer to life for you. While you may not see or hear them laugh and cry, you will at least know what could have made them do so.