Like many of us, I’ve often found the Ancestry.com hints pointing to other family trees more irritating than informative. It’s not unusual to find the exact same content duplicated from one tree to another. Fortunately, the occasional tidbit of information makes wading through these trees worth the effort. Over Easter weekend, one of those tidbits turned into quite a whopper! Following a hint to another Barrett family tree brought me face to face with a portrait of my second great-grandmother, Frances Georgina Scott.
It didn’t stop there. I used Ancestry’s messaging service to connect to the cousin who created this tree and posted the portrait. She responded quite quickly with another precious gift – the diary Frances’s daughter, Georgiana, kept. My cousin had transcribed Georgiana’s diary, adding footnotes using her research to further describe certain entries. She used Amazon to publish it as The Diary of a Southern Lady. I bought the Kindle edition for $4.99 and it is worth every penny. When reading on the Kindle, footnotes aren’t small print at the bottom of a page. Instead, the reader taps the footnote’s reference number and the text of the footnote appears in a popup window. Read it, then tap the screen and you are right back where you left off. Wow!
Instead of documenting sources, Kay used the footnote feature to present her research notes describing more detail about the person, place or event mentioned in the diary. I am barely into it and already it has answered a number of questions about this family. Finishing the book and updating my research notes will keep me busy for quite some time!
Kay’s effort is also an inspiration. We all have treasures like this tucked away in our archives. Yes, they can often be posted in online trees – each of the major genealogy archives would like nothing better. However, when scanned, transcribed and annotated into a book, they can become a true family treasure. My grandfather’s letters could become even more interesting when given more context regarding place and time. Sounds like just the project for me!
The Diary of a Southern Lady was originally published at Moultrie Creek Gazette and reprinted here with permission.