So I’m watching The Bletchley Circle on PBS last night and Susan, the lead character says, when you are stymied by the pattern or code, you back up to the point in the process where the code or pattern is clear and begin again. I think to myself this bit of wisdom applies to almost anything in my life. Lately, it has applied to the work on my family tree.
Someone, working on their family tree, decided one of my ancestors, a certain Nicholas, was a Captain in the Continental Army and dozens of other tree makers followed that lead, not unlike the drum major in Animal House leading the college band down a blind alley.
Now Nicholas might have been a Captain, and certainly some of his family thought so because they wrote it on what is perhaps his tombstone. However, I can find no records verifying this. I did find he had been a seaman on the Sloop Providence and another vessel during the War of Independence, however.
Seamen were the best. Did you know the idea of democracy was born on Pirate ships? (see Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Marcus Ridiker) That’s what the British called these American fighting vessels. Sailors were paid with the booty from a plundered captured ship. The crews were composed of both men and women, indentured servants, runaway slaves, and others who had fled what passed for the criminal justice system in Britain those days.
Rediker, a history professor at Cambridge has written several “popular history” books on the subject of how the downtrodden finally asserted themselves. I find popular history, the history of the people fascinating. This is the new revisionist history right wingers like to scorn. Too bad they don’t actually read it.
Do you read, or do you skim? The Washington Post ‘Outlook’ section ran an article this past Sunday about how folks don’t read, but rather skim most articles. The author asked if anyone actually read a certain post about the loss of literacy that went viral on the web, or was it forwarded around the Internet as a joke. The author went on to discuss the loss of writing skills among the young (and older?).
Truthfully, I read some posts word for word, beginning to end. Others I skim. Ditto magazine articles and essays. I mostly read books, and try to select those I think I can finish. Presently, I am reading the Russian Origins of the First World War by Sean McMeekin. I am also reading Sleepwalkers, by Clark (cite below on Goodreads icon. I know these books are not every one’s cup of tea, but I like history better than anything else, except nature, of course.